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Your social media posts about your children are not without risks

Your child’s first birthday, the start of the last school year, family vacations—as a parent, it’s nice to share the latest news about your kids or their achievements.

Sadly, doing so on social media can expose them to risks that are often hidden, as personal information, photos, and video could harm their reputations in later life or be used by malicious people for child porn or identity theft.

Risks

 

  

 

Children’s Virtual Identity

Adults can choose what to share about themselves on social media and thus control their virtual identity and the way others perceive them. By posting about your children, you’re creating an online presence for them that they may not want or would rather limit. You shouldn’t create a virtual identity for them where they have no say or input.

 

Identity Theft

Your social media posts are full of private information on your children that anyone can access (full names, ages, birth dates, parents’ names, addresses, etc.). Scammers can use this information to answer security questions (name of first pet, first street lived on, make of first car, etc.), open bank accounts, and apply for credit. It is predicted that by 2030, the social media sharing of children’s private information will account for two thirds of identity thefts involving young victims over 18.[1]

 

Children’s Privacy and Reputation

A child has as much right to privacy as an adult. Parents’ notions of what’s okay to share online may differ from those of their children. Social media exposes a child’s private information to more people than was ever possible in pre-Internet days. Some posts may embarrass or humiliate them so you must be alert to and mindful of their concerns.

 

Bullying

Posts that you think are funny or cute may be a target for bullies who can access them if your social media account is linked to that of your child (or even through a search engine if your account isn’t in private mode).

 

Child Pornography

Sometimes malicious people can target a parent’s social media content, photos in particular, for personal use or to share on child porn sites. One might expect such photos to contain nudity or partial nudity but they often do not. In many cases, otherwise innocent photos have sexually suggestive comments added to them.

 

Future Use of Personal Information

The wealth of information available on social media may be a factor in third-party decisions that affect your children in later life (information on their health when buying life insurance, on their grades when applying to university, on their lifestyle or behaviour when applying for a job, etc.).
[1] Children’s Commissioner for England, Who knows what about me? A Children’s Commissioner report into the collection and sharing of children’s data, November 2018

Tips

 

As a parent, there are ways to limit the risks to which you expose your children when you post on social media. Here are some examples:
  • Before posting online, it is a good idea to evaluate the content and ask yourself some questions [2]:
    – Why are you sharing it?
    – Would you want someone to share it about you?
    – Could your child be embarrassed by it, now or in the future?
    – Is there anyone in the world who shouldn’t see this about your child, now or at any point in the future??
    – Is this something you want to be part of your child’s digital footprint?
  • Limit the number of social media posts you make about your children.
  • Avoid any posts that may reveal your children’s personal information such as name, date of birth, address, school name, health information, habits, or anything that can be used to answer security questions.
  • Avoid any posts showing your children in embarrassing situations.
  • Avoid posts containing photographs of your children containing partial or complete nudity.
  • If your children are 7 years old or can understand what you’re doing, get their consent before posting.

 

  • If they’re older, tell them you’ve posted about them and show them the post.
  • If you children ask you to remove or delete a post about them, do so.
  • Learn about the privacy settings on social networks:
    – Make sure your account is “private” and does not appear on search engines such as Google.
    – Also make sure only authorized people have access to your posts.
    – For more information on social network privacy settings: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube
  • Stay alert to what you post about your children in “private” groups on social media (Facebook primarily):
    – Make sure that the group is “private”, meaning that only those you allow can join the group.
    – Ensure that the group is “secret”, meaning that only members who have access can find it.
    – Keep in mind that members of a group can copy, save and share the information you post.

 

[2] Claire McCarthy, MD, FAAP, Sharenting: 5 Questions to Ask Before You Post.

 

 

 

This project has been funded by :

THE OFFICE OF THE PRIVACY COMMISSIONNER OF CANADA (OPC)

The views expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the OPC

 

 

Videos Realisation : Wolfgang Animation