As a part of this month’s challenge, we thought it would be irresponsible of us if we didn’t discuss the serious side of keeping our kids images safe on the internet.
Many of us snap and post without giving it a second thought. But what are the risks once we post that photo?
I had a discussion yesterday with Detective Senior Sergent Steve Loth from Taskforce Argos. Taskforce Argos is a specialised branch in the Queensland Police Service that is responsible for the investigation into online child exploitation and abuse. Detective Senior Sergent Loth was very generous with his time and provided some key messages we should all be thinking of when we manage our photos. A lot of it is common sense, but it is a good reminder all the same.
1. STOP & THINK: Stop and think before you post. Who are you trying to get the photo to? What is the reason behind you posting? If it’s only a small group of people you are trying to communicate with then perhaps an email is more appropriate than Facebook or Instagram.
2. EDUCATE YOURSELF: Social media is a really convenient way to share pictures. Get to know the platform, e.g. Facebook, Instagram, Google +, you are using. Understand how its security works and adjust the settings so that it suits you and your purposes. Learn if you can delete an image on the platform you use and how you can do that. Be aware when and how security and privacy settings change.
3. YOU DON’T OWN IT: Understand that once you post a photo on the internet, you have no control over that information. There is always a risk that the image, despite your best intentions, could become widely available. If the image is innocuous, the risk of this is of course low.
4. NO NUDE PHOTOS: Do not post nude photos of your children on the internet no matter how strong you think your security settings are. Just don’t do it.
5. NO EMBARRASSING PHOTOS: Do not post embarrassing photos of your children on the internet. We do not know what the power of the internet might be in years to come. The funny photo of little Timmy today, could potentially haunt him through a simple google search of his name in 10 years time.
6. HAVE A POSTING POLICY: If you have strong beliefs about photos of your children or their identity being posted, communicate those openly with your friends. We hear all too often stories of friendships being lost over these sorts of issues. Speak up and let those around you know what you want.
7. KNOW WHO YOU ARE CONNECTING WITH: Review who your followers are and ask yourself if they are people you want to have access to the images of your kids on their devices as well? Do you know everyone as well as you would like to?
8. PROTECT YOUR CHILD’S IDENTITY: On Timmy’s eighth birthday you post a photo of him, with you, Jennifer, and his Dad John Citizen. If you have low security settings this information can be stored and used at some point in the future (e.g. when Timmy turns 18) for identity theft. This threw me as well but just reenforced why I hesitate to use Miss M’s real name on the blog.
9. TAKE RESPONSIBILITY: Social media is easy but be responsible. Who is in your life and what do you want to share with them – not the world.
10. MORE INFORMATION: If you would like more information please refer to these following resources. They have some great tips on talking to older kids and teens about being safe on the internet as well.
I hope this post has heightened your awareness, it isn’t meant to scare you.
At the end of the day, if you are smart and use common sense, it is highly likely that your kids are going to be safe. Have you learnt something here? The idea of protecting my daughter’s identity wasn’t something I had even thought of before.