Note from the Editor:
It’s only normal for parents to be proud of their kids and what better way to “show them off” than to share their (big and small) achievements via online social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram.
However, as most of you are aware, there are dangers lurking. Fortunately, there are some simple and safe online posting practices we can all follow to ensure that we are not putting our children at risk.
Sandra Cobain, from BestForTheKids.com is our guest author today on this very important subject. If you are not yet following any safe online photo posting practices, you will find this article very helpful. If you already are, a refresher is always good so we can see if we are up-to-date with the latest expert recommendations.
Safeguarding Your Children’s Pictures Online: The Dangers and How to Avoid ThemIt may be a nice idea to share photos of your children and their friends running around your garden while you’re having a BBQ on your Facebook or Instagram sites with your friends and family, but have you ever considered how safe your social media profiles really are?
As much as it’s a horrible thought to comprehend, bad things do sometimes happen on social media, and it’s important that, as a parent, you’re aware of these dangers, repercussions and how to protect your family from these threats ever becoming a problem. When uploading photos of your children, you’ll always need to be aware of whether they’re appropriate–and whether you’d be happy with strangers seeing these images on their feeds.
Fortunately, there are several ways you can continue to build up the safeguards, adding protection to your accounts to protect your family.
Implement Your Privacy Settings
No matter what social media site you’re using, whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, Flickr or Twitter, you’ll have a range of privacy settings available to you to protect your account being open to strangers and Internet users that have malicious intent.
For example, changing your profile so only your accepted friends and followers can see your photos will mean that your photos will only be accessible to these people and strangers won’t even have the opportunity to see your profile. To access your privacy settings, head over to your ‘account settings’ and you’ll see a fairly obvious ‘privacy’ setting, where you’ll be able to customise your preferences.
Upload Low-Quality Photos & Images
This may be incredibly hard to believe, but some marketers are more than happy to stroll through social media profiles to take high-resolution images of your children to use in their marketing campaigns or to sell their products.
I found this hard to believe at first, and you may even question the legality of using someone else’s (especially a minor’s) images for commercial purposes without their consent, but this still happens nonetheless.
By uploading low-resolution images, marketers will find it unappealing to use your kids’ photos for their intended purposes, ensuring that they would be more likely to skip using their images.
Be Aware of Your Device’s Location Feature
If you’re uploading your children’s photo to your social media profiles from your smartphone, point-and-shoot or DSLR camera, your location data may be uploaded alongside the image, even if it’s not directly displayed.
If this is the case, malicious users who have seen your photo will be able to click, download and view the metadata, which holds the location information. This makes it a lot easier for criminally-minded individuals to track their targets and to know where you and your family live. So, it’s always a good idea to either turn location information off (on your cell phone, tablet or camera) or to strip metadata from your kids’ images before you upload them on social media.
Also, if you’re uploading an image, you may have the option to display a ‘geotag’ with your image. If you’re offered this option, always click ‘no’, as you definitely don’t want your kids’ photos to be publicly displayed as part of the search results for whatever location those photos were taken in. For example, if you recently travelled to Rome, and chose to geotag your kids’ photos so that social media sites like Facebook display the location as “Rome, Italy”, along with captions containing the words “kids, children” etc. (if you wrote captions containing such words) it might’ve been a huge mistake – because anyone who now searches on Facebook for search terms like “kids in rome” and filters the results to view only photos, chances are, your kids’ photos will be visible to them.
Avoid Photos and Videos of Landmarks
If you’re uploading a photo, try to avoid photos that have giveaway landmarks in them. This is even the case if you’re on holiday. For example, you never know what kind of people are operating in your destination. So, let’s say you’re on holiday in Paris. Uploading live photos of your family in front of the Eiffel Tower will let people know in the area that you’re there and on holiday.
If you haven’t considered the points above, such as social media privacy settings and geotags, this becomes a lot riskier. The same consideration applies if you’re posting images from your local area. If you live near a park or famous landmark and continuously upload photos of where you live, people are going to know.
If you think about it, using your social media profiles, it’s easy to find out when people go to work and to work out their daily routines, so always be aware of this.
Avoid Uploading Photos of Other Children
You may be more than happy to upload images of your children to social media to share with your family and friends but be aware that other children, such as your child’s friends or playdates, may not–and their parents may not want their children’s photos posted on social media.
So, before you upload the group picture of your little boy on roller skates along with a bunch of other neighbourhood kids, think twice and ask the parents of all those other kids for permission before you upload that picture on social media.
As a rule of thumb, only upload pictures of your own children or discuss the subject with the other parents first so you can be sure exactly where they stand.
It’s so much fun sharing pictures of our children online with other family members, but it’s also important that, as a parent, you’re aware of the potential dangers that exist by posting your children’s images online. It may seem harmless at the time, but the sad stories you hear through the media do sometimes happen, and they are avoided so easily. Be smart with your actions and keep your family safe from all possible troubles.