Not unlike parenting – social media sites don’t come with a “how to use” manual. Even if they did, most people wouldn’t bother to open the first page, because “the kids know how to use it, how hard can it be?” Due to this inaccurate belief that we don’t need lessons on how to use social media, a lot of well-meaning people put themselves and their family at risk – including parents!
Gone are the days that predators looking for children need to hang out in parks wearing dark sunglasses and a hat. In today’s age, these grubs hang out on the internet leering at content that children post on social networking sites. But is it only children who post content that predators would love?
Parents are using social networking too and the predators looking for young children are being given content hand over fist by proud parent’s sharing photos of the adventures with their young.
Games similar to the old chain letter concept are continuously being invented and shared amongst friends, calling for you to post your favourite photos of your children or the photos that make you most proud to be a parent and to make sure you are emotionally pulled to participate, one of your friends has tagged you and said they think you are an awesome parent and they challenge you to be a part of the game. Of course we all swell with pride – my friend has nominated me for a challenge and it’s because of my sensational parenting, not because they want to see me sit still while someone throws a bucket of ice over me. I’m in because I’m headed for parent of the year status!
The photos of your children being active in groups at the park or the movies is one thing, but imagine how thrilling it must be for those awful people that troll the internet looking for child exploitation material when you willingly post images of your children in their togs or in the bath.
We are NOT saying not to share pictures with your friends of your family and their adventures – this is the fun part of social media. But you need to make sure you choose who can see the photos and ensure copies of your photos don’t crop up in a place that would make you ill.
Here are the steps to follow for safer posting of family content:
- Make sure you are posting to the audience of only YOUR friends – don’t tag other people in the original post.
- Never use a FRIENDS of FRIENDS option when posting pictures of your children (if it is available on the social networking site you are using.) I know you trust your friends but you can’t guarantee they take your child’s privacy as seriously as you do and the friends of friends option allows every friend of every person you are friends with access to your posts.
- If the game you are participating in calls for you to tag people – do so in the comments AFTER you have posted the photos. This action won’t add the friends of the people you tagged to the audience of your post.
- Don’t post photos of your babies in the bath. The internet always has the potential for the wrong person to find access to your content.
- Learn how to make lists and post the photos of your little ones only for your nearest and dearest friends and family – the ones who you would trust to mind your children, rather than the entire of your contact list.