You Found A Picture of My Child Where?

smudged for blog 2While I’m on the topic of parenting, what are your thoughts about posting pictures of your kids on places like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, etc.? This wasn’t an issue when my kids were small. The internet was a baby itself that most people had no idea that such a thing even existed. The most instant photography we had were Polaroid cameras which developed special film in the camera and spit out crappy pictures. Everything required film and sending it off for developing and if you wanted far away people to see the pictures, you had to have prints made and snail mail them. (I still have rolls of undeveloped film from when my kids were younger.)

Now, we snap a photo with our phone and tap the screen a few times and everybody you want to see can see it. Depending on the privacy settings on your social media, maybe many more than you imagine can see it.

In researching this, my main concern was that pedophiles can easily access photos, download, and share and sell them with other like-minded creeps. And this is true. Some investigators believe this doesn’t happen that often. Other have seen that even innocent looking family photos can attract unsavory attention. There are websites where predators interested in exploiting children can place orders for the type of photos they are looking for, specifying age, gender, race, etc. Others of the ilk send/sell what they have. Some will even go out and take pictures at playgrounds, etc.

There are also “less” frightening incidences of people digitally kidnapping children by reposting photos of kids and claiming them as their own, creating a fantasy life with other people’s children and posting on Facebook, etc. as if it is real. There are also cases of photos of children stolen from posts that appear in ads without the permission of parents.

smudged pic for blogPersonally, I understand the desire to share photos with family and friends. My husband and I have mostly lived in other states than our siblings and parents and have missed out on getting to know our nieces and nephews as they grew up. And now they are having kids. The best way to stay in touch is by Facebook. I love seeing the newest members of our families, and my friends grandkids and the kids of my kids’ friends I drove around when they were younger. It’s their choice to make these available to me, trusting me to respect their privacy.

A few things to consider:

  • Some parents don’t post photos at all on the internet. Others are more trusting of human nature and post whatever they want. I would bet there many who haven’t given it much thought.
  • Be aware of the privacy settings you use on social media sites. I am most familiar with Facebook where you can set up lists of specific people you selected to receive a post. You can also change and audience after you post something.
  • Remember it’s possible for someone to download a photo, even if you disabled sharing. It only takes a couple of extra steps.
  • Be careful who you chose to share with. Maybe you connected with a friend at a recent class reunion and you’re now friends on social media. But you don’t know what this person has been up to or become in the intervening years. This even holds true for relatives and co-workers, unfortunately.
  • If you chose to post pictures of your kids with other kids, be aware other parents may not want their kids to appear on the internet.
  • Resist the urge to post locations of photos. This feature can be disabled on apps.

In my volunteer work with StreetLightUSA, I come across much information about the numerous ways that children are exploited. The internet makes this so much easier today, in many cases bringing the victim right to his or her exploiters/pimps/ johns. I haven’t even touched on the apps that make it easier for teens to meet the wrong people.

All this to say, be aware of what you do online, especially where your kids are concerned. You’re the first and best line of defense between them and the nastiness or even careless stupidity in the world.

More articles on this topic:

How to Protect Photos Online via Parents

Photos of Kids You Shouldn’t Post Online via Parenting

Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule (“COPPA”) FTC

Putting Children’s Pictures Online: What Are the Rules CNN opinion

Family Photos Could Be Pedophile Targets and Facebook privacy tools via Battle Creek Enquirer

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