Campaigns cautions parents to think twice before posting photos of kids on social media

If your Facebook and Instagram feeds are anything like mine, they’re filled with photos of friends’ and family members’ kids. But while it’s become commonplace for people to share their fun family moments on social media,  having your kids’ pictures easy accessible on the internet may not be as safe as you assume.

The Child Rescue Coalition, a nonprofit organization that partners with law enforcement and child advocates around the world to shield, rescue and safeguard children from sexual exploitation, has recently launched a campaign, @KidsForPrivacy, that seeks to raise awareness around the dangers of posting your kids’ photos online.

Check out this video from the organization:

The video says that 89 percent of parents haven’t checked their privacy settings in over a year, meaning that they may be leaving photos of their children accessible to those who could wish them harm.

The organization urges parents to think twice when they post photos, especially photos that feature seemingly innocent hashtags like #pottytraining and #bathtimefun, which may inadvertently serve as calling cards for predators. They’re asking parents to raise awareness for this issue by posting photos on social media of their children holding signs that say “Privacy Please.”

Dr. Kristy Goodwin, a researcher and author of “Raising Your Children in a Digital World,” agrees that the risk of predators accessing these photos is real. “It has been suggested that 50 percent of images shared on paedophile sites have been taken from parents’ social media sites. We lose full control of where our kids’ photos end up when we share them online,” she wrote on her blog.

The campaign acknowledges that sharing photos on social media is now just part of the way we interact with the world, but encourages parents to ask themselves four simple questions before posting a photo of their child: Why am I sharing this? Would I want someone else to share an image like this of me? Would I want this image of my child viewed and downloaded by predators on the Dark Web? Is this something I want to be part of my child’s digital life?

If you want to be able to share your family life on social media while simultaneously ensuring your kids’ safety, there are steps you can take to accomplish both.

1. Check your privacy settings frequently, as these can change without warning.

It’s important to make sure only those you trust can view those photos.

2. Avoid posting your child’s full name on social media, and consider not sharing their birth date either.

These are important pieces of identifying information that can cause problems if they end up the wrong hands.

3. Avoid posting naked photos of your kids on social media.

While photos of your kids in the bathtub are super cute and innocent to you and most people, they can also attract child predators.

4. Share your sharing preferences with family and friends.

While it can be a funny conversation to have, it’s important to make your sharing preferences known to friends and family, so that they don’t share information or photos of your kids that you’re not comfortable with.

What are your rules around social media sharing?