The posts you make about your child on social networks are not without risk


Your child's first birthday, last school year, family vacations... As a parent, it's great to share your children's latest news and achievements on social networks.

Unfortunately, these publications carry risks for your child that are often unsuspected. This personal information, photos and videos could damage your child's reputation in the future, or be used by malicious individuals for child pornography or identity theft.




A child's virtual identity

As adults, we can choose what information we share about ourselves on social networks, and thus control how we want to be perceived. It's our virtual identity. By posting about your child, you create a virtual identity for them. Some people don't want to have an online presence, or prefer to limit the information published about themselves. So avoid building a virtual identity for your child over which he or she has no control.


Identity theft

A great deal of personal information can be gathered about your child from the publications you make. It's possible to find out his or her full name, age, date of birth, parents' names or address. It's also easy to obtain information that can be used to answer security questions, such as the name of your child's first pet, the name of the first street they lived on or the make of their first car. Fraudsters can use this information to open a bank account or apply for credit. According to predictions, by 2030, the sharing of children's personal information on social networks will account for 2/3 of identity theft among young people over the age of 18


Children's privacy and reputation

Just like an adult, a child has a right to privacy. As a parent, you may not share your child's conception of what is acceptable to reveal about him or her. Posting on social networks exposes a child's personal information to a wider audience than before the advent of the Internet. The child may feel embarrassed or humiliated by certain publications. That's why it's important to be attentive to any discomfort a child may be experiencing, and to listen to what he or she has to say.



A publication that's amusing or endearing to a parent can become prime material for a bully. If your social network account is linked to your child's, or if your account is not in private mode, the bully may be able to access your posts through search engines.


Child pornography

Sometimes, the content that parents post on social networks about their children, particularly photographs, is targeted by malicious individuals. These may be used for personal purposes or published on child pornography sites. Contrary to popular belief, targeted photographs are not just those containing full or partial nudity. Many innocuous photographs are reproduced, with comments giving them a sexual character.


Future use of personal information

The wealth of information available on social networks about your child can be used by third parties to influence their decisions. Whether it's information about your child's health for the purpose of granting life insurance, data about his or her academic performance for a university application, or information about his or her behavior for a job application.
[1] Childrens' Commissionner for England, Who knows What About Me?, A Children's Commissioner Report into the Collection and Sharing of Children's Data, November 2018



As a parent, there are ways to limit the risks you expose your child to when you post about him or her on social networks. Here are just a few of them:

  • Before posting a publication, it's a good idea to evaluate its content and ask yourself a few questions [2]:
    - Why are you sharing this publication?
    - Would you want someone to publish something similar about you?
    - Could your child be embarrassed by this publication, now or in the future?
    - Is there anyone in the world who shouldn't see this publication about your child, now or in the future?
    - Do you want this publication to become part of your child's virtual identity?
  • Limit the number of posts you make on social networks about your child.
  • Avoid any publication that could reveal your child's personal information: name, date of birth, address, school name, health information, habits or that could be used to answer security questions.
  • Avoid any publications showing your child in embarrassing situations.
  • Avoid any publication containing photographs of your child with partial or full nudity.
  • Ask your child for his or her consent before publishing about him or her, when he or she is able to understand what you are doing or has reached the age of 7.
  • If your child is older, mention that you've made publications about him or her and show them to him or her.

  • If your child requests it, remove the content you've published about him or her.
  • Find out about the privacy settings of social networks:
    - Make sure your account is "private" and does not appear on search engines such as Google.
    - Also make sure that only the people you authorize have access to the content you publish.
    - For more information on privacy settings for social networks: Facebook, Instagram,Twitter, YouTube.
  • Remain vigilant about what you publish about your child in "private" groups on social networks (mainly Facebook):
    - Make sure the group is "private", i.e. only people you authorize can join.
    - Make sure the group is "secret", i.e. only members with access can find it.
    - Keep in mind that members of a group can copy, save and re-share the information you publish there.
[2] Claire McCarthy, MD, FAAP, Sharenting: 5 Questions To Ask Before You Post






This project was funded by :


The opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the OPC.



Video production: Wolfgang Animation