As proud parents, we often post photos of our children on social media without a second thought. We want our friends and family to see our children’s first smile, first steps, first day of school, and all the special moments in between.
According to a national survey, 84% of mothers and 70% of fathers frequently share family images on platforms like Facebook and Instagram. It is so common for parents to exchange images of their children that there is even a phrase for it: “sharenting“.
However, there are risks associated with sharing images of your child online, so you must understand how to do so safely.
The dangers of sharing photos of your child on social media
Sharing anything on social media carries inherent risks, and this includes images of your child. Sharenting frequently results in the establishment of a digital footprint for your child, which can have negative consequences such as loss of privacy, financial fraud, and possible embarrassment.
According to a report by Barclays Bank, sharenting might be responsible for around two-thirds of financial fraud and identity theft by 2030.
Identity theft risk
While posting images of their children on social media, many parents have inadvertently divulged sensitive information. This sharing has occasionally led to identity theft.
Identity theft is a major issue. Occasionally, a post may contain the child’s full name, birth date, city, and state. A few clicks will show the personal information of the parents. Combine this information with data breaches and publicly available social security numbers on the Dark Web.
Difficult to remove
You may realise after posting a photo of your child that it should be erased. However, it isn’t easy to fully delete photographs that have been shared online. Even after you have deleted a photo from your account, it may have been shared or saved by family members, friends, or even strangers. It is almost impossible to trace down everyone who owns the photograph. Once a photograph of our child is posted online, we relinquish control of that image. Anyone can save, print, share, and modify the file.
Photos are owned by website owners
Numerous social media platforms have phrases buried in their terms and conditions that grant them ownership of the content you submit on their services. This means that when you submit a photo of your child on such a site, you transfer ownership of the image to the platform’s owners. They are free to use the image how they see fit. And because you accepted the terms and conditions, you have little recourse.
How to safely share images of your child on social media
Even though there are risks associated with sharing on social media, there are many safe ways to share photographs of your child.
Here are some suggestions for posting online responsibly.
When sharing images of your child on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, adopting the most restrictive privacy settings these platforms offer is essential. Also, inform family and friends following the account that you don’t want your child’s images to be shared.
Remember that certain accounts allow you to establish permissions or notifications for tagging or sharing your photos.
Disable the metadata
Typically, a photograph’s metadata includes the time, date, and sometimes its location. This basic fact indicates that a person might determine your position using embedded metadata photographs.
You may easily prevent your phone’s images from containing metadata by disabling geotagging in the camera settings. Check this feature frequently since software changes may default to sharing metadata.
Check every photograph
When posting images of your child on social media, it is pretty simple for private information to slip through the gaps. The casual photo of them on their first day back to school may include their school name, location, and age. Similarly, a photograph of a work of art that you are proud of could include their complete name.
Therefore, it is essential to check and then double-check that these images do not include confidential information.
If your child is of an age where they can comprehend and consent to sharing their images on social media, it is essential to obtain their permission. If they request that you not share a specific photo or any photos of them, you must respect their decision.
Instead of asking a basic yes or no question, make exchanging images an activity you both love. Ask them to choose photographs they enjoy, where they would like it put, and what type of caption they would like to use.
You can also use this occasion to demonstrate how social media functions. Discuss the risks and precautions kids will need to take when they reach the age where they will also be sharing their lives on social media.
Avoid posting images of other children
When sharing images of your child, consider not only your child’s privacy but also the privacy of other youngsters. Therefore, you should not distribute images of other people’s children without their parents’ consent.
If you want to share the photo, it is essential to speak with the parents of every child in it. If you have permission to upload photos of other children, take extra precautions to verify that the images do not contain any essential information or metadata that could place the children in danger.