Ours is the first generation of parents to raise kids in a world where technology is this immersive and this all-consuming. Because of that, many parents are hypervigilant—okay, let’s be honest, we’re stressed to the max!—about what our kids see and do online. We’ve watched the prime-time TV specials, seen harrowing news segments, and stumbled upon terrifying social media posts about all the potential dangers that exist online. At this point, we’re nearly experts in how to protect our kids from technology’s dark side.
But we forget this is our first time in a world like this too.
We often spend our time ensuring our kids are using technology in the wisest way possible while maintaining a safe distance from people who mean them harm. But when it comes to our own usage, we’re blind to the weak spots in our personal technology safeguards. Sharing our kids’ photos online is pretty harmless, right? It could be harmless, or it could be detrimental. Here are some tips for safely sharing your kids’ photos online:
Use common sense.
Even though you enjoy sharing your kids’ cute and funny moments with your followers, keep in mind that it’s your kids’ lives you’re putting out there for your world to see. Refrain from posting anything that might make your kids a target of identity theft or that shares where they are. Pay special attention to with whom you’re sharing their full names, their birth dates, and where they regularly spend their time.
Consider what’s at stake.
A solid relationship with your kids should win out over technology every time. If your kids aren’t comfortable with what you’re sharing, please listen to them and honor their feelings. Right now, you hold the keys to your kids’ digital footprints—if this feels like a big deal, it’s because it is—and you’re creating their online presence for them already, whether you realize it or not.
Set family rules.
Before posting, have a family meeting and ask your kids what they feel comfortable with you sharing online. Set parameters around when you’ll post, what you’ll post, and give your kids the option to change their minds later, if they want to.
Tighten up your privacy settings.
The minute you post anything online, it’s outside of your control—once a photo is on the internet, you can’t manage where and how far it goes, thanks to screenshots and the screen recording function. The best way to keep a tighter grip on who sees your content is by allowing only the people you know to follow you on your social media platforms. And while you can’t control who shares your content, you can ask your family and friends kindly not to share what you post.
Share only what you’d be comfortable with someone else sharing about you.
Kids’ bathtime is full of cute moments, but how would you feel if someone shared a picture of you—at the age you are now—in a bathtub? Chances are, you wouldn’t be too keen on the idea. So, a good rule of thumb is to only share photos you wouldn’t mind being shared of you if the roles were reversed. And if you must share a cute naked-baby-bottom picture, opt to send it via text message instead.
Our safety online is just as important as our kids’ safety, and by protecting ourselves, we protect our kids too.