Do you remember those innocent bath time photos your parents took of you a kid. You were probably soaping your brother’s hair into a mohawk, or wearing goggles to ‘practice’ swimming. Those images sit harmlessly in the family photo album and are fondly looked upon from time to time. But times have definitely changed. Those innocent photos could turn from fond memories into trouble. In this digital world many people plaster their lives online, bathtime photos and all. It is important to remember two things, nothing ever leaves the internet and anyone can get their hands on it. So you need to be very conscious of internet safety. Let’s explore how you can keep your kids images safe on the internet.
Internet Safety For Your Children...
Opinions and Sticky Beaks
I recently read an article in the Herald about a family in the States who took a holiday with their two young children. As you do, they took hundreds of photos on their trip. When they returned, they picked their favourites and took them to the local store to get them printed. One of the images was a picture of the Dad and his daughter wrapped up in a towel together after bathtime. It was a cute snap, both were laughing their heads off.
But the store assistant did not see the cute family photo that everyone else did. They reported the image to the police and the family entered into a 10 year legal battle to prove that they were fit parents who did not sexually abuse their children. It was complete madness. Of course they were proven innocent.
The moral of the story is to be very careful about who you show your images to. Even though it could be completely harmless, there are some sticky beaks in this world who think it is their duty to poke their nose in where it isn’t wanted. While this was an incident with a physical photo, imagine how much worse it could have been if it was posted on the internet. The keyboard warriors and nasty trolls would have had a field day tracking this family’s reputation through the mud. Not to mention the people with unsavoury intentions who would potentially use the photo for their own sick purposes.
The Perils Of Social Media...
Social media can be a great way to chronicle the life and achievements of your children, especially with the Facebook memories feature. But it can also document things your kids would rather forget in the future. Practising good internet safety is vital when it comes to social media photos.
Any photo that you post on social media is no longer your own. When you put it out there on any social platform, you cannot fully control who sees your images. Something that starts out as a post for Nana 3 towns away can end up halfway around the world if friends of friends like the post. That is why it is important to be cautious of what you post and who it might reach. Have a look at your security settings and make sure they are tight. Ensure that you do not give public access to private photos.
Most of all, screen the photo before you post it. Ask yourself if it falls into one of these categories…
Yes, it’s a cute photo now. But will it be so cute when your child is going for an important job interview and their potential employer happens across it during a background check? The rule here is don’t post anything that will cause ridicule in years to come.
Be mindful that it is not just your friends and family that have access to public images. Child pornogrpahy is a very real threat, so don’t let your child fall victim to some creep. It is best to keep any shots that involve nudity for the family album only
You already feel bad enough when you are sick, you don't need to have your photo plastered all over the internet reminding you of it too. The only exception to this rule is if you are highlighting a certain condition for the awareness of other parents.
If your child has told you that they hate a certain photo of themselves then don’t go ahead and post it on social media any way. Offer your child the respect of being able to veto any photos they don’t want posted. If your child is too young to do this themselves, then it is your responsibility to be their advocate. Is this something our child would be embarrassed to see in the future, does this give away their location or put them in any danger, can someone use this photo for ulterior means? If you answered yes to any of those questions, don’t post it.
Did you know that every photo taken from a mobile device records the date, time and location it was taken? Unless you edit those settings, anyone that stumbles across the photo can find your location details. That means that they may be able to locate you or your children at any one time. Even tagging where you are out for the day, or ‘checking in’ on Facebook can spell out to others where you are.
Parenting is not a competition. Your child is not better than my child, and mine is not better than yours. Every child is a precious little flower growing in the garden of life. They all need nurturing and grow at their own rate. No amount of water or fertilising will make them grow quicker. Teach your children that their own achievements are enough. We need to replicate that sentiment by not bragging about ourselves or our children on social media solely to compete with others.
Lead By Example
A lot of the photos that are posted on social media are not real life. They are carefully curated to look shiny and perfect. But, often behind the perfectly set up play area is a giant pile of mess that the camera cannot see. Teach your children that you don't have to be someone you are not. Post photos that are real and fun, not ones that have taken 45 minutes to style and your child has a fake smile plastered on their face!
The internet is a very real part of our children’s lives. They are the first generation to grow up with every day chronicled for the world to see. So it is important that we as parents protect their internet safety and be sensible when posting photos of them online. Always think before you post!