Posting & Sharing Your Child’s Photos Online: Etiquette & Safety Risks

Kid's Birthday Party

New parents are eager and enthusiastic to share photos of their precious new bundle of joy with everyone they know.  Prior to our digitally dependent culture, baby photographs were mailed to friends and family.  Your loved ones would open the mailbox and be delighted with a beautiful snapshot of your little one.  Now, with the popularity of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube, the Internet has made it easy, more convenient and cost-effective to share these prized pictures with everyone online.

Keep in mind these etiquette and safety tips while sharing your child’s photos with the digital universe:

  • Avoid identity theft and safety risks by adopting LifeLock protection as an added layer of online security.  Photos can be exploitative material—just as much as credit card information and personal data.  Ensure that your privacy settings on social networking and photo-sharing sites meet your safety expectations.
  • Keep an eye out for a sinister new type of malware customized to target image files, thus exposing people to identity theft, blackmail and fraud (according to Security Watch on PCMag.com).  Known as the Pixsteal-A-Trojan, the malware locates images on infected computers and transfers them to a remote FTP server.  These files include .jpg and .jpeg files, which are commonly used for photos.  Called “virtual burglary,” “remote burglars” can access financial papers and other confidential documents through a single image.
  • The Mercury News mentioned that parents who snap photos with their cell phone should turn off the device’s geo-tracking feature, which records the date and location of a photo. Therefore, when you post your photo online, it’s free of private information that can be traced back to personal details such as your whereabouts.
  • Using a nickname when posting baby pictures online is an added cautionary measure.  Mercury News shares the story of one mom who explains that you just never know who might see the cute pictures of your child online.  In her case, one of her Facebook friends was a registered sex offender.  Since then, she has been very careful about what she posts.  She also asks friends who repost photos of her children on Facebook to please remove them from their pages.
  • Innocent picture tagging can also lead to potential online threats.  Parents who are hosting a birthday party should be sensitive about posting pictures of other children online.  Avoid tagging other children or their parents on Facebook and using real names unless you have permission.
  • Never post any photo online that you wouldn’t want the whole world to see.  The moment a photo is posted on the Internet, you’ve lost control of the hands it falls into.  Despite the most secure privacy settings, copies of your images can be easily shared.  Inform your teens about the dangerous consequences of posting private photos and videos on the Internet.  As an extra safety measure, limit the number of pictures you post.  For instance, share two photos from your child’s birthday party rather than all 60.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

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3 comments

    1. I feel you. It’s just best to be cautious these days because there are so many mean people out there in the world who are just waiting to hurt innocent people, especially innocent children. This piece is more about alerting people about the potential dangers and common pitfalls involved with sharing photos via social media. I found it to be vital to offer a piece that would offer some ways to help parents share their children’s photos more safely and responsibly.

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