Child Safety

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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Teenagers Need Curfews

Teenagers

If you want your teenagers to stay out of trouble, you must establish a curfew for them.  Teenagers will make many unwise choices when you let them choose when they are to return home.  When you give your children a curfew, it communicates to them you have quality standards you expect them to meet.  Too many parents allow their children to determine when they’re going to come home from a friend’s house.  How much sense does that make?  As a parent, it’s your job to resolve a curfew for your children—it’s not your children’s job.  Be clear about the time you expect your children to return home.

While it’s important to give your children some freedom, you shouldn’t grant them the liberty to decide their curfew.  Of course, there’s nothing wrong with hearing how children feel about a curfew.  Parents must, however, be the ones who ultimately create the curfew.

When you set a curfew for your children, this is a great opportunity for you to engender some guidelines for your children to follow when they’re not going to be at home.  Don’t just give your children a specific time they must come home without telling them other essential things they must do before, during, and after they leave home.  Make sure you know where your children are going when they leave home and who they are going to visit.  If possible, drive your children to their destination to enable you to survey the milieu in which they will be meeting their friends.  Warn them against inappropriate behavior and inform them about the consequences of inappropriate behavior.

You need to learn more about your children’s friends.  Meet with their parents to find out what type of people they are and discover their values.  You don’t want your children hanging out with the wrong type of people who may have imprudent values.

Too many children are dying because they lack structure and discipline.  Many parents across the nation have to do a better job of parenting.  It’s the hope of this piece to offer some suggestions for improving parenting.  We need to keep our children safe and establishing a curfew for them is a vital part of good parenting.

Do you feel it’s necessary to give teenagers curfews?  Why or why not?  What are some other things parents need to do to keep their children safe?

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison