For many years researchers have cautioned parents about posting pictures of their children on Facebook and other social media sites. There are far too many horror stories about these photos being misued and identities being stolen. Though some parents choose to not post pictures of their children on Facebook at all, others feel that posting the pictures is okay, as long as they practice caution.
According to the Wall Street Journal, by the time your child turns 5 more than 1,000 pictures of him or her have been posted on social media and 92% of two-year-olds have an online presence. You are creating a "digital footprint" when you post pictures of your children, which is something to be taken very seriously.
In order to help protect your child's privacy and identity, here are a few guidelines parents should follow:
1. Don't post inappropriate or embarrassing photos
There are many adorable photos of children playing in swimsuits, taking a bath, or making faces while going to the bathroom. These cute pictures are memories parents want to share with friends and family...but don't do it via social media. Even with secure privacy settings, pictures online can still be shared, reposted and abused without your permission.
Help protect your child's privacy and their identity by not posting pictures of your children naked, wearing minimal clothing or when they are doing embarrassing things.
2. Don't post pictures that reveal your child's location or personal information
This is simply a safety issue. Let's say your children are playing in the front yard, and you snap a picture of them and post it on Facebook. In the picture you happen to catch your house address and the nearby street sign in the background. Now someone who doesn't know will know your address. The same kind of thing can happen in a park that you mention is right across the street. Turn off the location for your pictures. You want to show that your children are happy and doing well, but no one needs to know where you are.
Names, ages and birth dates are all important identifiers for your child. To avoid identity theft don't post your child's full name. Many parents choose to give their child a social media nickname which allows them to identify their child for friends and family, but still protect their child's identity.
3. Ask for permission
There will come a time that your children will have an opinion about what gets posted on Facebook. Respect their desire to build up their own social media presence. How comfortable would you be if your mom or dad was in control of your social media? Would they post things you would post? Think about your children in a similar way.
When they are old enough, give them veto power over any image or video you post. They should help decide what images of them are shared online. This will also help them respect you, because you respected them.
4. Don't post pictures of other children
The policy you have about picture of your children is your policy, but other parents might feel differently. Always make sure it is okay with the child and his or her parents to post the picture.
Double and triple check your social media privacy settings. Make sure pictures are only going to the intended audience and don't be afraid to use other photo sharing sites that give you more control on who sees your photos. This may seem like common sense, but privacy policies change and it's always a good idea to make sure your accounts are still secure.
It's up to you to determine what you will post about your children, but following these guidelines should help protect your child from online predators and identity thieves. These guidelines also will allow your child to somewhat dictate how their image will appear to the world.
Stacie Simpson is a FamilyShare staff writer. She loves listening to, gathering and sharing stories and advice to help others improve their quality of life. She spends most of her free time with her husband, ballroom dancing, reading and writing.