Back to school photographs - a goldmine for predators?

It's that time of year again - the kids are heading back to school and social media is full of photo's of children standing in front of doors! It's an exciting time but are these proud parents actually putting their children's safety at risk? The answer is, unfortunately, yes. 

Posting images of your children onto Facebook or Instagram is something you really need to consider carefully. Once you post an image online, you lose complete control over it. Downloading the image is easy and if you don't have the right privacy settings, any one of the billions of internet users can get hold of it, keep it, sell it etc. 

What's the big problem?

As a parent, your single most important job is to keep your children safe. Think about the information that you're presenting to the world with a simple photograph. 

  • The name of your child/children. 
  • What they look like. 
  • What school they go to
  • What year they're in. 
  • Their age.
  • The names of their brothers and sisters.
  • The names of their mother/father (and anyone else you've tagged in the photo). 
  • Whether or not they walk to school. 
  • Where they live. 

This is a goldmine of information for anyone wanting to begin a conversation with a child. Predators use trust to manipulate people. Imagine how easy it would be to gain the trust of a child by showing them how much you know about their family, school life, friends etc.

Think before you post, and follow these steps to keep your children safe.

  1. Post a very simple photo, don't show addresses (and turn off geo-tagging), school names etc
  2. Consider who can see the photo. Look at your followers, and ask yourself whether you would happily hand them a physical photograph of your child and then let them take it home with them! 
  3. Think about whether that photo really needs to be shared to ALL of your friends and followers. Could you set up a group of friends that you trust (and would be interested in seeing another back-to-school photo!)? Alternatively, use a direct sharing app like Whatsapp or Snapchat, where the images aren't stored in public.
  4. Consider who can see the photo. Look at your followers, and ask yourself whether you would happily hand them a physical photograph of your child and then let them take it home with them! 
  5. Don't tag too many friends and relatives in the post.
  6. Check your privacy settings for your wall, your posts, your profile etc. Make your account secure and private. At the very least, you're showing a good example to your children by doing this. 

Be proud of your children, show the photo's to your friends and family. Just keep your kids safe whilst you're at it! 

Remember, when it comes to the Internet - nothing is private, everything is permanent. 

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