A birthday party, family Christmas, a dance concert- how many of us post happy snaps of these special moments on social media?
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to share these pictures with loved ones, but it pays to be smart about what you put online, especially when it comes to pictures of your child.
This week is National Child Protection week, where the spotlight is on educating each and every one of us on what we can do to keep kids and young people safe, both on and offline.
That doesn’t mean you have to stop sharing photos of your children to keep them safe. By keeping a few things in mind, you can dramatically improve your family’s safety and reduce the risk of pictures falling into the wrong hands.
Be smart when posting pictures
We all know not to post personal information online, but sometimes it’s the tiny details that slip through the cracks.
• Be careful with back-to-school photos, especially if your child is wearing their uniform. That’s a sure-fire way to announce where your child’s school is- and where people can find them five days a week.
• Avoid pictures showing the outside of your home, or anything that can identify where you live.
• The above points also apply to extracurricular activities. Avoid posting pictures that identify the sports ground where your child has training or the name of their dance school.
This doesn’t mean you can’t take cute photos of your child’s first day at school in their uniforms at the school gate- just keep them in the family album or on the living room wall, not on the internet.
Private doesn’t always mean private
We all know privacy settings mean only friends and family can see you posts, right? Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case.
All it takes is one of your friends accounts to become compromised for your images to fall into the wrong hands. Once this happens, you have no control over where your pictures go or how they’re used.
It's an uncomfortable reality but it pays to keep this in mind when posting pictures.
If your child is old enough, ask if they’re ok with their picture being online. Some older kids might find it embarrassing, while others can start to fixate on how many likes they get, setting the foundation for an unhealthy relationship with social media.
If other children are in the photo, double check with their parents or guardians if they’re ok with the photo being posted.
With social media being such a big part of modern life, asking permission not just a simple form of tech etiquette, but a way we can normalise consent around posting images online.
Beware aware of dangerous online groups
It is an unfortunate reality that not everyone on the internet has good intentions.
You may have heard of the Wren Eleanor controversy, with inappropriate comments being left on three-year-old’s TikTok account prompting her mother Jacquelyn to delete posts.
This situation has raised questions on whether parents should have social media accounts dedicated to their children, as well as the effect this might have on kids when they get older.
The Wren Eleanor situation is a terrifying reminder that anyone can and will save photos and videos of your child- where they end up from there is completely out of your hands.
If you see something, say something
This applies to both online and offline situations. If you see something that doesn’t look right or seems like a red flag and you think a child might be in an unsafe or dangerous situation, say something.
Online or offline, we are all responsible for the safety of children and making an anonymous call to a child protection hotline or expressing your concerns to a teacher could be the difference between that child getting help or being left to fend for themselves.
Every child has the right to learn and grow in a happy, safe environment, and it’s up to us to make sure this happens.
By being aware of what you’re posting and understanding that sometimes privacy settings aren’t always enough can help you make better decisions for your family when it comes to posting images online.