Take care with social media

Think twice: Parents should be well aware of who can see pictures of their children before they post them on social media.Many parents use Facebook and other social media platforms, and nearly all of them post pictures of their children.

Many share because the experience makes them feel less isolated, less alone. Discussing concerns with other parents can be really helpful.

However, there are concerns when sharing includes photos of children. One Australian survey of online child pornography found that around half of the photos identified as pornographic were ordinary, innocent photos taken from the websites of parents and families and re-used in inappropriate ways. Alterations were sometimes made to photos or explicit, inappropriate comments were added to sexualise the children. Imagine how you and your child would feel to see a totally innocent picture re-used in this way.

And imagine the longer-term consequences as your child grows into adulthood.

We know for example that many employers (one study suggests around 20 per centbut the number is growing) now check social media sites before employing a new worker and nearly half of those who check are influenced by the potential employees’ online presence.

Will that innocent photo of your children at the beach end up costing one of them a job in the future?

Note that Facebook has a facial recognition tool that is used on its US site and this scans photos and matches people based on their pictures and tags.

This matching is able to overcome differences in appearance with age so that postings we make now can be linked to other postings children may make in the future as adults. It is more and more difficult (if not impossible) to remain anonymous online.

Identity theft is also a risk. Digital kidnapping occurs when a photo is taken and re-posted, perhaps with strangers claiming the child is theirs.

Baby role-playing, another form of digital kidnapping, is growing fast: this is where people pretend to play out being the child in the photo, the parent of that child or even a potential adoptive parent. Some act out sexual fantasies using the photo.

There are more than 55,000 photos on Instagram tagged as baby role-play, mainly photos of other people’s children. Some include “likes”used to build up a pretend profile, and others are cries for adoption.

There are things parents can do to make sharing their precious memories a little safer.Experts suggest first check your privacy settings. Make sure the people you have authorised to look at your content are exactly those with whom you want to share.It is not uncommon for parents to cull their list of friends several times over and reduce the number to a much smaller amount.

However, it is important to remember whileyou might prevent unauthorised people from copying photos of your children from your online postings, that does not prevent friends, family members and others posting your photos on their sites.

Secondly, be careful of the kinds of information you post.

Information such as geographical location, age, date of birth, and full name should also be avoided. Parents might want to think about using pet names for their children rather than real names in their posts.

Another strategy suggested by some experts is that photos posted online should have a watermark put across them.

It is important that parents understand the terms and conditions applicable to the social media sites they use. Some sites claim the right to copy and use posted material.

Lastly, parents need to have conversations with their children about the kinds of images and information about themselves children want to have online. Children have a right to be consulted about what is posted online about them and engaging in these conversations provides opportunities for both parents and children to develop digital literacy.

Children need to learn how to manage their online presence as early as possible given that this is likely to be a very large part of their future lives.

Parents who would like further information can access the Australian Children’s Commissioner’s safety website: https://苏州美甲美睫培训esafety.gov419论坛/education-resources/iparent/staying-safe/photos-videos-and-social-media

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