This is a guest post from Tammy Anson, is the Chief Marketing Officer at child image protection and photo storage solution, pixevety.
As parents, it’s entirely natural to want to photographically document your child’s major (and even minor!) milestones. With the ubiquity of social media it makes sense that many of us, proud parents and grandparents alike, don’t think twice about sharing photographs online. However, remember that once an image is sent out into the digital ether, you can quickly lose control over who has access to it, which throws up myriad risks.
From pedophilia to stalking, cyberbullying, identity theft and kidnapping, the online risks for your child are many and great. But that said, the virtual world is an unavoidable feature of modern life so how can parents and carers let their children lead a digital life while protecting them at the same time?
Before posting a photograph to social media, think about the content and whether or not it’s appropriate. The Australian eSafety Commission warns that half of all images on paedophile image-sharing sites originate from social media sites and blogs. These images, downloaded in the thousands, are used to create fantasy stories – and they don’t have to be suggestive images to garner attention either.
Considering this, you may wish to avoid full-frontal face shots, swimwear and nudity for instance. Also, posting low-resolution photographs (you can resize the originals to web-quality) means nobody can tamper with them.
While making a social media birth announcement is almost a rite of passage for most new parents, don’t share your child’s exact date of birth. Furthermore, you should blur out name tags and make sure no visible locations such as your home or your child’s school are visible.
In addition, every digital photograph contains metadata that records the time, date and GPS coordinates of where the photo was taken. There are different ways you can wipe that data or better still, simply create a screenshot of the image and share that instead.
Only share images with people you know and trust. This may mean carrying out a ‘cull’ of your friend list (this can be quite therapeutic too!), but it also means getting serious about your social media platform’s privacy settings. Remember that if one of your friends ‘likes’ your picture, it may be visible to their friends too.
When your child is old enough, you should ask permission before posting their image. This establishes a ‘privacy-first’ mentality in your household to set them up for a healthier relationship with technology when they are old enough to protect themselves.
Also, never share a photo of another child without asking permission first. As for your child’s school, it’s their responsibility to obtain specific consent concerning the ways you are happy for your child’s photo to be shared.
Lead by example
As with most parenting issues, it’s important to lead by example in the digital sphere. Make your children aware of why you use Facebook, how you use it, and what you don’t do. When you feel your child is ready to have their own profile, sit down with them and explain what a big responsibility it is.
At this stage it’s important to set up boundaries around what they can share online, who they can connect with and who they shouldn’t. Help them set up their privacy settings and you could even sign a contract together outlining what you’ve discussed to make it feel like a real family commitment. By reviewing the contract regularly, you can always remind your child that you paid for this experience (be it via the mobile phone or internet they use) and thus can take it away!
Sadly, many children and teenagers using social media are coaxed and even threatened into sharing photos and personal information online. They can also be manipulated into doing despicable acts until an adult intervenes. This is where parents and carers need to step up as we cannot expect big companies with commercial interests in our children to do it on our behalf. Nor can we expect regulators too, because the laws are not yet strong enough to tackle these issues head on.
We need to start treating the digital world as an extension of the real world and stop relying on it to protect its citizens. Parents and carers must take the reins on this front because failing to monitor children’s online behaviour is one of the biggest safety risks for children right now. In fact, recent research has shown that the latest generation – Generation Z (born after 1996) – for the first time ever has stated that anxiety and depression are the biggest problems within their peer group and it has been insinuated that was caused from an overexposure to online and social media channels.
Navigating the digital world is a complex one for children but with a bit of time and careful consideration you can not only protect them but create responsible digital citizens too.
About the author, Tammy Anson, Chief Marketing Officer of pixevety:
Tammy Anson is the Chief Marketing Officer at child image protection and photo storage solution, pixevety. pixevety is an easy-to-use online platform that offers a hassle-free solution to reduce the daily stress and privacy pitfalls of managing and sharing photos and videos of children. pixevety is simple, safe, smart and secure https://pixevety.com/