The Dangers of Posting Photos of your Kids Online

Things to do with Kids - What you need to know about Posting Photos of your Kids Online

Childhood Abductions | Social Media | Online | Things to do with Kids

Being an avid social media follower and sharer, I didn’t put much thought into posting pictures of my little Bean online. I posted pictures of when he was born, pictures of our first family outing, pictures of our first family holiday and many more - these were special moments in my life and, as such, I wanted to share them with my friends and family. With social media being such an easily accessible medium of communication and such an integral part of our daily lives, it was only logical to upload them, share them and to immortalise these memories & moments forever.

I have, however, recently stopped uploading any identifying picture of my little guy (hard as it is sometimes – he is just the cutest after all, plus I blog for a living here at Things to do with Kids) and here are the reasons why:

He is his own Person

Childhood Abductions | Social Media | Online | Things to do with Kids

Bean, little as he is now, will grow up to become a teenager and adult, who like the rest of us, will want to establish his own online profile and persona on social media. I doubt he will like the fact that the internet is already filled with baby photos and cutesie little moments which might make him cringe (I keep thinking of certain #proudmom moments I have witnessed: a photo of a girl using the potty for the first time, a photo of a boy running around the garden naked and a birthday party photo of a crying one-year-old). I will, of course, give him access to all these photos and videos, but I want him to decide what he wants to share about himself. It is his life after all.

Geotagging of Photos

Childhood Abductions | Social Media | Online | Things to do with Kids

Did you know that unless you have disabled this function, most modern-day smartphones automatically embed GPS location details into all your photos?  And that these geo-locations are uploaded to any social media platform as part of your photo? As a blogger, I cannot help but live in the public eye, and information like this scares me. It scares me because it means that criminals and predators can see where I am (if I am posting live) immediately and they can get access to my home address, as well as the address of Bean’s school or daycare, or any other significant address which might be embedded in any of my photos. Learn how to turn off GEO location tagging on your cell phone (here).

Photo Theft, Manipulation and Loss of Photo Rights

Once the photo is online, you lose control of it: it is stored on a server you have no control over, it can be tagged and shared by friends who might not have the same privacy setting as you and it can be stolen, downloaded and manipulated (without you even knowing about it) to be used by strangers, predators and paedophiles.

Even if you delete the photo off your account (or you delete your account in its entirety), the photo may have been shared to other profiles or tagged by an active account user. It is also stored and backed-up on the social media platform’s server. This means that once the photo is uploaded, it can never be removed. Let that sink in for a while.

Another very important fact is that certain social media platforms give themselves licence to use your photos as they see fit. This means that once the photo is uploaded, you have no control over what that site may do with it.

How to Securely Post Online

Childhood Abductions | Social Media | Online | Things to do with Kids

Should you still wish to post photos of your children online, be sure to follow these guidelines:

  • Think before you post – who might see/share this? And keep in mind that once it’s uploaded, it’s up. There is no back button.
  • Check the photo for any identifying details which could lead a predator or criminal to you / your child (for example, a car registration number, a name of your school in the background etc)
  • Check your privacy settings
  • Read the terms of conditions of your chosen social media platform
  • Know your friends – go through your friends' list and decide whether they are good friends who you trust or just some random acquaintance who could potentially bring harm to your family? Delete the friends who are not really friends - this is not a popularity contest.
  • Disable GPS functionality on your phone
  • Do not allow other people to post pictures of your children without your consent (and be firm)
  • Do not post pictures of other kids without consent

Alexa

A wife and mom, Alexa is an avid traveler always on the lookout for a new adventure. She is a high energy, natural influencer and inspiration to those around her. Although she has based her career on sales and marketing, she studied politics, philosophy and economics. A passion for writing has led her to blog on Things to do with Kids and on her personal blog called ‘Sleepless in Jozi”, which is focused on life as a mommy, travelling and generally being a busy body. In her free time Alexa loves spending quality time with her family, the outdoors, reading a good book and exploring new restaurants, markets and activities.

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