Protecting your children online


    It is natural to want to share snippets of family life with others, from sharing drawings on the fridge door to posting pictures of happy, smiling children on social media, thanking people as the “likes” and compliments roll in. Nevertheless, this ‘sharenting’ needs to be done in a way which ensures those happy, smiling faces stay safe. This begins with setting up some restrictions and taking necessary precautions when posting anything about little ones on the internet…

    Parenting in this day and age comes with numerous ‘new’ elements that previous generations didn’t need to deal with. Our style of parenting is based on our own experiences with parents during childhood – learning both what to do and what not to do. Nevertheless, parenting in the digital age – a rather new phenomenon – means learning as you go. Many media-savvy parents now post stories and pictures to their own websites, blogs, and social media accounts, facing the dilemma of wanting to share their lives with others – especially in a world where families are increasingly disseminated – whilst ensuring they don’t share too much. How do we embrace the digital age and all of the positive things that it brings without opening up our families to unknown risks? A lot of it has to do with control. In order to keep your family safe, consider implementing these precautions:

    1. Privacy Settings
    Always set your privacy settings. Every social media platform has privacy settings, and any blog or website you create should be fully customizable, including privacy settings – this will differ depending on the CMS used. The safest way to post photos of your children online is to create private folders with customised security settings that only allow selected individuals to view them. Controlling access is one of the best precautions that you can take.

    2. Photo Quality and Composition
    However, because you are still posting to an online portal and cannot have complete control over it, you should be very careful with how you take the pictures that you are posting. By choosing photos where your children are not looking directly at the camera, are not in close focus, and photos with low resolution that cannot be easily enlarged and printed, are good ways to safeguard against anyone trying to use them for ulterior purposes. You can also add a watermark to photos you upload easily with various apps, offering an extra layer of security against photo reuse.

    3. Location Services and Landmarks
    Another element about how you take photos is to ensure that you don’t include any recognizable landmarks in any of the photos that you post online – like schools, parks, street signs, etc. You want to keep the child’s location completely private, which also means turning off any locational services or geo-tagging that record where photos were taken, especially when taking and posting pictures immediately from your phone. Some of the bigger social networks are legally required to ask if you want to share location when photos are being uploaded, so say no to this – but it is still a good idea to check your phone settings.

    4. Discretion
    And of course using basic discretion can go a long way. Don’t ever post the full names of your children, and avoid posting any photographs that you shouldn’t, like bath time, potty photos, or anything that your child could be embarrassed by later. Remember that even if you think it is adorable, it doesn’t necessarily need to be shared. Sometimes these memories can remain just that – memories.