Parents are very comfortable posting pictures of kids in their social media which means that there is potential risk for overexposure on-line. A recent study featured in Nominet found that the average parent posts over 200 pictures of their children per year without checking privacy settings; by the time a child is five, on average 1,000 photos of them have been shared on line. This study found that half of the parents did not realize that the social media site owns the rights to use their child’s photos. It is a reminder that parents too are vulnerable to the seductive influence of sharing and liking posts in ways that could compromise their child’s security. Here are the ways in which parents may compromise their child’s privacy:
- Geo-tagging settings not turned off – giving away locations of where your child lives and plays
- Seeking advice via social media about your child’s issues
- Posts of “cute” mishaps and potty training shots that can become fodder for bullying later. Better to keep those off line.
Tips for parenting as the guardian of privacy
There is great confusion about privacy, as the world tells us that minor kids need, or better yet, have a right to privacy from parents. Truth is that parents have divine authority to provide protective cover for their children. That means that parents have a duty to respect, but not grant privacy to their children – especially for on-line communications. By respecting their privacy, we do not blab their personal business to others and we are the guardians of their personal security on and off line. Below are some tips to guide parents in protecting their child’s privacy:
- Think about setting a standard for privacy considerations when sharing on social media. Children learn by doing and by the examples we set.
- Make sure you turn off locator settings when taking and posting photos. The location settings on social media apps need to be turned off as well.
- Be conservative about the number and frequency of photos posted – less is more
- Check and monitor your social media privacy settings. Make sure that they are set for “friends only” and check them periodically to make sure they have not changed. Also set up a news feed (such as a Google alert) for updates about the social media apps you use. That way you can stay informed about any changes made to the app that might affect privacy and how you use it.
- Rely upon local, private storage of photos rather than the social media site. This way you can stay in control of the images.
Other photo-etiquette tips for parents:
- Refrain from sharing pictures with other people’s children without their parent’s permission.
- Think about the long term impact on your child having to live with your decision to post an image of them; is this something they would want a future employer to see?
To learn more about creating a family environment characterized by open communication, trust and individual resilience, go to Fresh Start.
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Joanna Jullien is an author, educator and speaker on strengthening the parent-child relationship in a cyber powered world. She is a mother of two grown sons, the author of The Authority In Me: The Power of Family Life in the Network Culture, produces The Sacramento Cyber Safety Examiner column on Examiner.com, and is the CyberParenting advisor on The Fish 103.9FM. Her new book, A Google World in the Garden of Eden: Five Family-Safe Strategies for Texting and Social Media is now available for PC and all eReader formats including Kindle, Nook, iPad.
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- Email: Jullien@surewest.net