Our Facebook newsfeeds are flooded with photos of our friends’ children. Mommy blogs abound with writers who delve into personal stories about their families. The Internet has become the go-to-place to share our children’s important milestones, life experiences and updates. Ninety-two percent of U.S. children have an online presence before they turn two, according to a 2010 study. But is sharing information about our kids online safe?
Innocent updates could be providing predators with a treasure trove of information on your child—including his or her name, birthday, age, location, likes/dislikes and more. This could have real ramifications for your child’s safety today. GPS-equipped smartphones and cameras place geo-tags within photos, noting the longitude and latitude of where they were taken. Unless you’ve turned this feature off, those precious pictures of your children could also be advertising their locations on the back end. Signage and other background details in a photo can also expose this information. Again, if placed in the wrong hands, this could let predators know where your child typically resides (e.g. your home address, school address, etc.)
It’s not just the now that’s affected. The digital footprint your creating for your child will carry with them through their adult lives. While some updates may be embarrassing (think the photo of your child in his diaper), others could leave them vulnerable. Be smart before posting about your child online. The safest route is not to post at all. That said, if you choose to share: use your privacy settings to ensure its only with close family and friends, limit the frequency of posts and filter the content, avoid updates that reveal personal details about the child, and turn off geo-tag functionality on your photos.