Social media influencers and family vloggers may be unaware of the potential dangers of showcasing their children online. It’s crucial to understand how to safeguard children’s privacy on the internet to ensure their safety.

Psychological Impact of Social Media on Children

Many parents initiate “sharenting” by sharing sonogram images and due date information online to announce their pregnancy. While sharing on social media is often done with positive intentions, especially during the pandemic, when people use it to connect and share updates, the dangers of posting children’s photos on social media may not be fully recognized.

From the potential repercussions of embarrassing pictures resurfacing as cyberbullying when children grow up to the risk of child predators accessing location information, there are numerous concerns associated with sharing children’s images on social media platforms. While complete abstinence may not be necessary, being aware of these risks is crucial.

Young children cannot provide full consent or comprehend the implications of having their images posted online. Even if shared privately on platforms like Instagram Stories or Snapchat, there is a risk of screenshots and data breaches, exposing the information to the wider internet, including the Dark Web.

Best Practices for Online Safety for Kids

When posting online, prioritizing the well-being of your child is essential. Despite having positive intentions, sharing private moments and vulnerabilities can breach a child’s trust and security, leading to potential mental health issues. Photographer and online safety educator, Claire Rodahaver, suggests creative ways to keep children’s images private online.

Rodahaver, who questioned the ethics of sharing children’s photos online, emphasizes the importance of avoiding sharing Personal Identifying Information (PII), which could give away a child’s location or school details. Identity fraud is a significant concern, and even seemingly innocent sonogram photos can contain PII that should be cropped out.

Risks of Cyber Child Predators

Sharing a child’s picture or information, even with strict privacy settings, poses risks, as close friends can share posts with a broader audience. Geotagging from home, school, or other frequented places is discouraged, as it can potentially lead predators to a child’s location. While the risk of physical abduction is low, digital kidnapping, where images are used for fraudulent purposes, is more common.

Family Vlogging

Platforms like YouTube and TikTok offer a new career option for parents through family vlogging. While it can be lucrative, the potential exploitation of children for views raises ethical concerns. Posting intimate family moments online exposes children to potential bullying, judgment, and loss of privacy. Currently, there is no specific law protecting children featured in family vlogs, making it crucial for parents to prioritize their children’s safety.

Celebrities Posting Children

Even celebrities in Hollywood, traditionally protective of their children, have faced challenges with posting online. Singer Pink stopped sharing her children after negative comments, and actress Mindy Kaling refrains from posting her children to ensure their safety and wait until they can provide consent.

A child’s digital footprint often begins with their birth, impacting their privacy and respect from a young age. Parents should consider not only how their children use social media but also the examples they set by sharing personal information. Teens may feel uncomfortable with parents sharing online, fearing potential impacts on future relationships, cyberbullying, or career prospects.

Setting positive examples for children on social media involves avoiding oversharing, as curated posts may shape their memories and experiences. Stacey Steinberg, director of the University of Florida Center on Children and Families, recommends waiting for a child’s consent before posting about them online and avoiding public discussions of potentially embarrassing topics.

Learning and teaching best practices for online safety can help parents and children make informed choices, balancing the desire to share moments with the need for privacy and safety in the digital world. Strategies such as choosing secure platforms, avoiding showing a child’s face in photographs, and organizing memories digitally without oversharing can help mitigate risks.