Our Facebook newsfeeds are flooded with photos of our friends’ children. Mommy blogs abound with writers who delve into personal stories about their families. The Internet has become the go-to-place to share our children’s important milestones, life experiences and updates.
Ninety-two percent of U.S. children have an online presence before they turn two, according to a 2010 study.
But is sharing information about our kids online safe?
Innocent updates could be providing predators with a treasure trove of information on your child—including his or her name, birthday, age, location, likes/dislikes and more. This could have real ramifications for your child’s safety today. A few examples:
A mobile app exists that lets users uncover biographical details about a person simply by scanning their face. Data is pieced together from photos and personal details shared publicly online. Imagine how dangerous this could be if put in the wrong hands. Children are taught to “never take candy from a stranger.” But, what if that person doesn’t seem like a stranger at all? Smart predators may know your child’s name, family members’ names and favorite activities all with the swipe of their thumbs.
GPS-equipped smartphones and cameras place geo-tags within photos, noting the longitude and latitude of where they were taken. Unless you’ve turned this feature off, those precious pictures of your children could also be advertising their locations on the backend. Signage and other background details in a photo can also expose this information. Again, if placed in the wrong hands, this could let predators know where your child typically resides (e.g. your home address, school address, etc.).
Future Privacy Concerns
But it’s not just the now that’s affected. The digital footprint your creating for your child will carry with them through their adult lives. While some updates may be embarrassing (think the photo of your child in his diaper), others could leave them vulnerable.
For instance, many password-recovery questions are based on an individual’s personal history—mother’s maiden name, city you grew up in, first pet’s name, etc. With parents sharing much of this online, savvy hackers could be able to piece together the information needed to steal your child’s identity in the future.
Think Before You Post
Be smart before posting about your child online. The safest route is not to post at all. That said, if you choose to share:
- Use your privacy settings to ensure its only with close family and friends.
- Limit the frequency of posts and filter the content. Avoid updates that reveal personal details about the child.
- Turn off geo-tag functionality on your photos.
What concerns do you have raising children in our connected world? Share them below.