Parents love their kids (obviously).
Parents think their kid is the most adorable thing on the face of the Earth.
Parents have an innate desire to document every goo, gaa, and eyeblink associated with their baby.
Parents want to share everything about their kids’ life on the Internet, down to the last. tiny. detail.
Wait! Friends and Family Aren’t the Only Ones Who Can See Pics of Baby Jack
BUT! Parents should be careful about how much personal information they reveal about their children on the Internet. Overzealous new moms and dads with access to a Facebook account and a digital camera can sometimes get a little carried away with how much information they offer up about their kids.
The average mom or dad who uses Facebook to broadcast info about their children, or post holiday pictures on Flickr probably never thought these harmless family updates could potentially put their kids’ safety at risk.
A Cautionary Tale
Meet Jessica Gwozdz, a professional photographer and doting mother of two young children, Grace and Henry. Jessica routinely posted pictures of her kids on Flickr. She figured posting the pictures in an user-friendly, public platform would allow distant relatives to stay in the familial loop, and electronically visit whenever they liked.
Then, according to the NY TImes, Jessica received an email with a link to a profile on Orkut, a popular social networking site in Brazil. Someone had created a fake profile using her daughter’s headshot which they pulled off Flickr. The fictitious profile said Jessica’s young daughter was interested in “dating”. What’s even more disturbing is that users had given the profile a “sexy” rating.
Jessica reported the fake profile to Flickr and Orkut and eventually it was deleted by Orkut’s site administrators. Regardless, as a mother Jessica was understandably shaken by the incident and to this day claims she still gets emails on her Flickr account from strangers asking for permission to use the photos of her daughter.
The unsettling knowledge that anyone in the world can download pictures of their kids and use them for such nefarious purposes, have caused a large number of parents to encourage others not to post any information about their children on the Internet.
Tips for Keeping Your Kids Safe
If you do share family photos on social media platforms, don’t include identifying information about your kids such as their names or ages.
- Never reveal where you live.
- Don’t post about upcoming vacations, or disclose sensitive information about which hotels you stay in, or towns you will be passing through.
- Leave out information about your kids’ daily routine and habits such as when you take them to the park, when they leave for school, etc.
- Make sure to enable strict privacy settings on all your social media profiles.
- Use secure programs like Picasa to electronically share family photos with friends and relatives. With this program, private albums are not searchable by anyone and can only be viewed by the person you emailed the pictures to.
It is always a good idea to stay actively involved in your kids’ lives, teach children how to be aware of their surroundings, and thoroughly vet any adults in their lives with an online background check. Keep your kids safe both in the virtual world, and the real one, and please — don’t put pictures of your kids going potty on the Internet. Save them from a lifetime of therapy, and prevent sexual predators from downloading their pictures by keeping your kids off your Facebook profile.
Author Byline: Jessica Ruane is a copywriter for Instant Checkmate. To read more articles written by Jessica, follow Instant Checkmate on Twitter or check them out on Crunchbase.