5 Key Guidelines to Consider Before Posting About Your Children.
Is tweeting or posting status updates online about one’s child simply the modern day version of pulling out the wallet photos, or does the “tell all” nature of social media put our kids at risk and create problems later in their adolescents?
Amy Webb, at Slate, argues parents are sharing too much information about their kids online. By parents oversharing, Webb states, “Parents are creating a generation of kids born into digital sin.”
She and her husband post nothing, no photos, videos or comments about their daughter online in hopes of protecting her anonymity.
However, in response to Webb’s article, Andrew Leonard at Salon countered in saying, that posting pictures of his kid on Facebook does not make him a bad parent. “We are strengthening the ties that bind a larger community of family and friends together in sharing our kids lives with a select few on social sites.” said Leonard
According to a study by internet security firm AVG, many parents share Leonard’s sentiments. 81 percent of children around the world have an online presence before the age of two. In the United States, that figure jumps to 92 percent.
Such an astounding number of young children with parent’s blogging, facebooking and tweeting about them is surely a cultural milestone.
Is too much sharing dangerous?
Tracey G, a mom from Cambridge, MA, who uses Facebook as a way to update family and friends about her son’s milestones, notes, “I think that its easy to forget when online that people with less than innocent motives could be looking at your updates and getting information on your child.”
If you do choose to tweet, blog or post pictures of little Johnny online, remember to follow these guidelines:
- Take advantage of privacy settings. By using the privacy settings offered on Facebook or other social media sites, you decrease the chances that online predators can view photos you post for family and friends, says Vivian Shic, spokesperson for Trend Micro, an Internet security firm.
- Protect your child from identity theft. “A thief could piece together what might appear to be random bits of disparate information and use it to impersonate your child—opening bank accounts, taking out loans, even committing crimes—all in the child’s name,” says Jacqueline Beauchere, a director with Microsoft’s Trustworthy Computing Group.
- Don’t give strangers an “in“ with your child. Beauchere advises against posting other kinds of information that could put your child at risk. “This includes not only facts … but also photos and feelings,” she says. “An appearance of vulnerability—sadness, loneliness or anger—could invite unwanted contact from strangers.”
- Be judicious about the photos you post online. “Consider that cameras made after a certain year tag the photos with an identifier that tells you the location the photo was taken,” notes Shic.
- Choose hack-proof passwords. Elizabeth Stanula, spokesperson for Geek Squad Agents, warns not to use personal information like birthdays or children’s names in your passwords. Nor should you use complete words, she says: “One of the most basic hacker tactics is known as a ‘dictionary attack,’ where an automated program will attempt the words of the dictionary.”
When in doubt about how much to share about your children in blogs or on social media sites, remember that scaling back is safest.
Where do you fall in the debate? Do you think sharing on social sites makes you a bad/good parent?