Over the next few days, parents will take to Facebook, Instagram and other social media outlets to post cute pictures of their kids as they experience their first day back to school. While there are mixed opinions about whether or not posting personal pictures online is a great idea, more and more parents have gotten comfortable doing so.
What’s the risk? Predators, identity thieves, folks who will sell your pictures to stock photo services and even aggressive salespeople all troll social media sites.
If you’re going to post pictures of your kids online, here are a few ways to minimize the risks:
- Review your social media privacy settings to ensure that you are properly controlling who can see what. Every social media site allows you to do this, yet many people just use the default settings, which may not meet your needs. Update those settings as your content and relationships change.
- Keep your location private. Avoid geotagging or “checking-in” at your child’s school and make sure there’s nothing in the photo’s background – like a house number or street sign – that gives away your home address.
- Mommy blogs dish up ideas for fun props and signs that include your child’s name, their teacher’s name, favorite color and other personal details. Avoid giving out too many personal details about your children as details about their favorite toys, activities, songs, etc. could be used to predators. “I have your favorite doll right here” or “Your mom asked me to pick you up and told me that ‘purple’ – your favorite color – would be the secret code.”
- Never tag other people’s children in the photos you post. Each parent has the right to make their own decisions.
- Most of us have a decade’s worth of pictures on various social media sites. The more pictures you have online, the higher the risk. Routinely delete old pictures and close old accounts (when was the last time you looked at your MySpace page).
And most of all, remember that before the days of Facebook and Pinterest, most of us returned to school successfully year after year without it being documented on social media and for the most part, we turned out okay.