Children born today will have the largest digital footprint in history. By the time the average person turns 18, it is estimated that they will have more than 70,000 posts about themselves online! This is a huge amount of data being shared, exchanged and stored. This data is then accessible to many more people than we may realize.
“It’s natural to want to share the happiest moments of our lives. When posting pictures of your children online, it may seem harmless, but there are several reasons why you should take a cautious approach.”
according to the international digital protection and cyber security company “ESET”.
Here are some of the threats that posting photos can pose to a child’s safety, according to “ESET”:
1. The image you uploaded is no longer yours
Every time you post a photo on a social media platform, that image is no longer exclusively yours! The terms and conditions often state that once an image is uploaded to their server, they are free to use it without consent! While you retain the copyright, the platform whose servers host the image owns the license. In other words, the social media platform has the right to use your photo in any way it sees fit!
2. The baby’s identity, or my identity?
Sharing information, or photos of your children online, can lead to identity theft. Posting ultrasound images, with sensitive information, exposes the child to risks even before birth! Sometimes, a post may include the child’s name, date of birth, or location. Then, with just a few clicks, an attacker can discover the parents’ personal information.
Combine all of this with data breaches and Social Security numbers —which are readily available on the “dark web”— and you have a quick and easy recipe for identity theft; with hackers potentially obtaining credit in the child’s name. According to the bank “Barclays”, the risks arising from the publication of children’s photos on the Internet, will represent two thirds of identity fraud and cases of financial fraud that young people will face by 2030!
3. Metadata reveals all
Social networking platforms are not responsible for removing metadata from your images. These include, for example, the location, the type of device used to take the photo, etc. An average cybercriminal can very easily use these to track down your child, where they go to school, where you live, or what extracurricular activities they attend. Even a photo of your child’s artwork can include their name.
4. You’re attracting the wrong audience
A good rule of thumb is, if you have the slightest doubt about a photo, it’s best not to post it. Also, try to avoid posting nude photos of babies online. Even an innocent photo of a child running naked in the garden can attract the wrong audience; and a photo of your child can end up in the wrong hands.
5. Consent is your mission
Realizing that your children will inherit the consequences of your online behavior is a serious thing. Therefore, asking your children for their consent to post anything about them on social media helps them realize that there are choices they have to make, but also consequences, both positive and negative. If you want to post a photo of your child with another child, you must also ask their permission, or the permission of their parents or legal guardians, just as you would with an adult. In France, if you post a photo of your child online and they object later, you could face a 45,000 euro fine, or jail time! Similar laws apply in Italy.
6. Reward bad habits
When you post every moment of your child’s life, it can reinforce bad habits and create a false reality that sharing everything online is okay and safe. Make sure you teach your children to use social media and online spaces safely and responsibly. Talk to them about the dangers, but also show them the fun part.
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