Is It Safe to Post Your Child's Pictures Online?

Posted on: 01.11.2018.

Author: Ana G

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The widespread use of smartphones has made it easy for parents to update their social media statuses with fresh photos of their kids. Uploading photos is nearly effortless and takes just a second or two to do. Unfortunately, many people don’t think much about the photos and information that they post online, especially when it comes to their young children.

You might use social media as a way to share updates about what your family is doing or how your child is growing and trying new things. Sharing photos with your friends and family online is a convenient way of keeping people updated, especially when they do not get to see your kids on a regular basis. Sharing the growth and development of your child through everyday activities and situations is referred to by parenting experts as "sharenting."

Sharenting is a new trend made possible through smartphones and advanced digital technology. If you participate in sharenting, you are building an online presence of your child that cannot simply be erased. Anyone in the world who has a social media account may be able to gain access to your child's most personal information, such as her first photo after birth or his first steps. This digital identity will stick to your child and become a part of permanent history. Even with all the benefits of technology for the family life, you need to be careful when posting your children's pictures online.


The Dangers of Posting Your Child’s Pictures Online

The news is rife with stories about what can happen when your child's information gets into the wrong hands. While many moms and dads are aware of and concerned about the problems of oversharing on social media, most choose to ignore the warnings from law enforcement and child protection experts.

According to recent sociological research, 74 percent of parents of infants have doubts about whether it is a good idea to post photos of their babies on their social media accounts. Most parents ignore their instincts and upload the photos anyway. Their friends and family do it too, so they may think it is safe.

Each social media network has different privacy settings that you can update. Even so, there is no absolute guarantee that one or more of your photos will not be seen by a stranger or someone else you did not plan on sharing with.

You may have the best of intentions by sharing the precious milestones and achievements of your child, but these innocent posts could wind up in the possession of someone who does not have your child's safety and security on their minds. There are also many controversial issues about whether it is ethical, safe or even legal to publish photos and information about a child who is unable to give his or her consent.


Exposure to Sexual Predators

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One major safety risk of posting photos of your children on Facebook and other social networks is the attention they may get from sexual predators. Even when you have set up the strictest of privacy settings, other people can share your photos. Their privacy settings might not be as tight as yours, resulting in your cute bath time photo of your baby getting spread far and wide throughout one or more social networks.

If you have taken a photo of your child at a recognizable place and have made notes about when you are there, predators may be able to pinpoint your child's exact location and hone in on him or her. This information is all that a sexual predator needs in order to find your child or your whole family anywhere in the world. Keep your child safe from strangers by paying attention to location sharing.


Opening Children to Cyberbullying

Some parents may occasionally post an embarrassing photo of their child. While this might seem like a silly prank, it could lead to cyberbullying from your child's peers. Bullies could begin distributing those embarrassing photos throughout online forums, social networks and websites. This could cause your child to be intimidated and experience a significant amount of emotional and mental harm.


Setting a Bad Example

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As a parent, it is important for you to set a good example about how much information to share with other people. This includes everyone you might come into contact with in real life and in the online world. Kids need to know about the dangers that can be caused by revealing too much personal information to people who they do not know. This includes the real hazards of sharing photos.

While those cute pictures of your kids in their birthday suits, swimsuits or other revealing attire might get smiles from your trustworthy friends and family, they can capture the type of attention you do not want from people with nefarious plans. Uploading such photos may give your growing children could give your kids the idea that such sharing is okay or even expected. You can teach your children how to use social media and about boundaries of how much personal information and what types of photos are okay to share. Teaching these boundaries at a young age will set them up for a greater level of personal safety later in life.


Identity Theft

Identity theft is another real concern of sharing your child's information and image through social media. After you post your child's photo, you lose control over where it goes and what people can do with it. The strictest privacy settings will not stop a predator from downloading and modifying your child's image. Sexual predators can then upload your child's image onto other websites. In some cases, people have used a child's photos to conduct advertising campaigns without the parents' knowledge.

Another unscrupulous use of your child's image is the creation of fake online profiles. A predator could use your child's photo as a means of connecting with unknowing children on teen websites where older kids share and chat with each other. This is a crime known as digital kidnapping. Strangers can even steal your child's photos and act as if the child is their own. If you have released details like your child's first and last name and birthday, these strangers could obtain your child's social security number and commit theft of your child's identity.


Anonymity and Consent Issues


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Young children cannot consent to your publishing of their information or photos. By sharing photos of your children, you are putting yourself in control of their online identity. The digital footprint that results from these posts can have unforeseen impacts on a child's future social and professional life. As your child grows into a teenager and adult, he or she may not want peers, employers or friends to be able to find those embarrassing childhood moments or to know what they looked like naked as a baby.


How to Protect Your Photos

You do not have to entirely avoid sharing photos or fun details about your child's life. The important thing is to be vigilant in how, what and where you are sharing. You can follow these safety guidelines to make sure that the images and information that you do share do not fall into the wrong hands.


Know Your Privacy Settings

Nearly all of the popular social networking sites that allow you to share photos provide you with an opportunity to customize your privacy and safety settings. Be sure to set up custom privacy settings on your online photo albums so that only close family and trustworthy friends can view them.

Be sure that any location settings are turned off so that nobody can figure out where you are, including while you are on vacation and at home. Make your settings such that the photos cannot be shared without your permission. Tell your family and friends not to share your child's image and personal information.

As mentioned earlier, even with tight security settings you can’t be sure that your photos won’t get into the wrong hands. Keep this in mind at all times.


Think About What You Post

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Before posting, take a moment to think first. Avoid sharing images, video or details that could compromise your child's safety, social life or future career. Never post your child's identifying details such as their school, physical address, email address, birth date, phone number or full name. Do not post partially dressed or nude photos of children of any age, including newborns. Before sharing a photo that includes other children, ask their parents for permission.


Lower Your Resolution

Lowering the image quality of your photos makes it hard for people to steal them and use them for their own marketing needs. Low-resolution photos are also more difficult to modify, print and enlarge.


Follow These General Guidelines

  • Use strong passwords that consist of random letters and numbers.
  • Involve growing children in the process of sharing their images online and ask them if they are okay with it.
  • Regularly review your contact lists on social networks and make sure you are sharing with the right people.
  • Check your privacy settings on a regular basis


Final Word

Sharing your child's image and personal details on social media can attract unwanted attention from unprincipled and dishonest individuals. Some images can even gain the attention of sexual predators who may seek to harm your child and family. If you are unsure about whether to share an image, listen to your parental instinct. Scaling back on your online photo and information sharing helps to protect your child's identity and future social well-being.