The Dangers Of Posting Your Children's Photos Online

By Ilana Donna, Patch Contributing Writer

Feb. 15, 2019

...even when you're exercising as much caution as possible, danger can still arise: "Only a person's privacy settings can affect who sees the photo — Facebook has the most options on that. However, if a platform was hacked, anyone could see the photos regardless of privacy settings."

The Dangers Of Posting Your Children's Photos Online

We all love to post those photos and videos our little ones, but are we putting them at risk by sharing? Here are some things to consider.

By Ilana Donna, Patch Contributing Writer

"Those photos you posted on the internet of your sweet girl last week were absolutely adorable. And that video of her eating avocado mush like it was bread pudding was so precious. If I didn't see your posts on Facebook I couldn't enjoy those sweet blue eyes and see her grow up, because I never really do see you in person."
"If it wasn't for Facebook or Instagram, no one would even know how cute my 3-year-old is! Lord knows I can't be bothered to send out Christmas cards. Plus, video is more fun. I'm sure you've seen that clip of him singing on key. If not, let me send it to you in a message."
That's what an obnoxious conversation might sound like between two parents who overshare info about their kids on social media. These days, it's hard to go online without being flooded by photos and videos of our friends' children. And thanks to some sort of chain reaction effect, this can sometimes make us want to post our own updates of our little ones, too.

Yes, most of us do it, but there are certain risks that come with sharing photos of our children on social media (not to mention our children might be horrified by some of our photo choices when they get older).
"No social platform can tell if a photo is of a child, and none ask that question before a person posts a photo," says social media expert Vicki Dolenga. "Ultimately, if you don't want to worry about pictures of your kids online — don't post them."
She adds that even when you're exercising as much caution as possible, danger can still arise: "Only a person's privacy settings can affect who sees the photo — Facebook has the most options on that. However, if a platform was hacked, anyone could see the photos regardless of privacy settings."
And let's not forget that while Facebook doesn't own your photos, it does have a "royalty-free worldwide license" on them as long as your account is active. In other words, Facebook can use your photos and not ask you for permission or pay you, as listed in its terms of service.

While speaking to a fellow mom at a playdate yesterday, I learned that she likes posting on Instagram over other social media platforms because she can better control who follows her profile and views each photo. "Even though Facebook has good privacy settings, it's a bit of a free for all. We all have some many 'friends' and 'friends of friends' who we don't really know that well," she explained.
(Side note: It's always those "friends" who seem to love making inappropriate comments. One old work colleague recently told me that my boy looked like the old man from "Fiddler on the Roof." That was not a compliment.)

Olivia Howell, who owns a social media company and specializes in children's brands, has a more optimistic approach towards social-media sharing, but emphasizes the importance of using your judgment. "I am very pro-posting photos and info, but it has to be smartly done," she says. "No bath photos, no topless photos, all clothes on...there are people out there looking for photos of kids. There are pedophilia sites that actually collect photos of kids. It flabbergasts me when people post naked photos of their babies or kids online!"

Here are some other important tips she shares to help you keep your kids safe as you post:
1. Be mindful of your children's clothing in the photos; think twice before posting semi-clothed or nude photos. Even when you can cover up body parts with emojis, be mindful!
2. Avoid sharing photos of your children in front of places they frequent often, like schools, churches and classes. If you have your child's name and face on the internet, it's best to keep locations vague.
3. Although you have the best intentions, be careful about posting photos or videos of your children doing things which could be misconstrued as sexual — for example, be mindful of kissing photos, certain dances, etc.
4. Stay alert! It's harsh and unfortunate to say it, but there are horrible people out there who cull the internet for photos of children they can use for their sexual use.
5. Keep accounts private on Instagram, know who is following you and share only to your Facebook friends. She also recommends using family friendly apps like Tinybeans which is dedicated to families and keeping data safe.
It's tough to be one of those vigilant parents who never posts photos of their child online. Showing off and kvelling over our kids on social media is one of our biggest joys today (sad but true).
So instead of completely swearing off social media sharing, perhaps it's better to just post in moderation and with caution — but cross your fingers that your one-day-teenage child and you don't regret that decision!

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