Family and friends want to see cute pics of your kids, and you want to show them as well. But not all is safe on the internet—even when you’re in private mode. You risk embarrassing your child, exposing him or her to bullies, or worse, offering a potential target for child predators like this man:
Statistics show that there are more than 50,000 sexual predators online at any given moment. Law enforcement officials warn that cases of identity theft keep their phones ringing off the hook, with parents calling to report that their kids’ pictures have been stolen and used by someone trying to break the law.
In these days of constant digital interaction, it’s nearly impossible not to share some part of your personal life with others with whom you are connected. The key is to be mindful of what you post and know the potential consequences. Here are some pictures that should be left offline.
When They’re Sick
When you’re about to post a picture of your kid, the most helpful thing to ask yourself is, “Would I want someone sharing this type of picture of me on the internet?” If the answer is no, then you know you should refrain. No one looks good when they’re not feeling well. And most don’t want pictures of themselves sky-written like that.
Disciplining your child by embarrassing and shaming them publicly seems to be all the rage right now. Often parents who choose this controversial method of parenting open up the door to copycat artists who mimic the same abusive behavior.
Studies have shown that shaming violates the trust between parents and children and can cause severe problems in children, including post-traumatic stress, depression, and anxiety.
You may be okay with posting pictures of your kids online, but that doesn’t mean that everyone else is too. Be sure that you have the permission of other parents before you post pictures of their kids in group shots.
Many a friendship has been ended over not respecting others’ wishes or boundaries regarding the privacy of their kids.
As adorable as your baby’s naked bum may look in a bubble bath, that sort of picture is absolutely not for the public eye.
We know how it is: There’s some serious cuteness going on, and you want to showcase it for your hundreds of friends and followers. But don’t. When your child is old enough to understand these things, they’re not going to appreciate their body being displayed on social media. We promise.
Aside from the embarrassment factor, there is the real danger that the photo could wind up in the wrong hands. Pictures of naked babies may seem cute and innocent, but the sad truth is that there are really bad people out there who might see the photos and use them for unspeakable purposes. Don’t be an unwitting accomplice to your child’s exploitation.
Private information is meant to be just that…private. Information like your address, where your kids go to school, where they’re traveling on vacation, or (for older kids) where they work is not meant to be public knowledge. It can be used by others for nefarious purposes.
Pictures of your child in their everyday environment can provide information to strangers about their habits and patterns. No one needs to know where your child spends most of their day, what activities they might do after school, or where your house is and what it looks like. The risks of possible harm coming to your child certainly outweigh the benefits of sharing details about your family’s life.
You may think that some pictures of your kids are funny or dorky and that others would get a laugh or a lift at their expense. But it’s important to view your post from their perspective and eyes. Try asking yourself, “Does anything I post make it easy for others to make fun of my child?”
You may love the cute nickname that you’ve given him, but it could make him the butt of a joke or an easy target for bullies. The best practice is to ask before you post. If he’s old enough to determine that he’s okay with it, then it’s up to you to foresee any possible future issues and determine if it’s the smart thing to do.
On the Potty
You may be super psyched that your kid is reading Nietzsche while he performs his first successful act in the loo, but this is absolutely something that should be kept as an inside celebration among family members.
Is the picture that you’re about to post a shot of you holding your kid on your lap in the front seat of a car? Is your 5-year-old playing on a tire swing that’s being supported by a frayed, single strand of rope?
Pictures like these invite criticism and further problems. Before you post, be sure you consider how the shot may be viewed—and if you could be offending or opening yourself up to a world of hate from others.
Pics With Geotags
Smartphones and apps can now post where your kid is at that exact time with the exact coordinates. There is no reason why anyone needs to know where your kids are at any given time…except for you and your close circle.
Pics of Academic Degrees or Diplomas
Experts call these pictures “personal identifiers” and strongly caution against putting anything up that predators may learn about your kid. This includes birthday parties, pictures with passports, and pictures with drivers’ licenses as well.
As exciting as the event may be, it’s best to text or email these to interested family members and friends and keep them away from the gaze of prying eyes. Identity thieves search the internet for this type of information and look for images that can be counterfeited.
Messages Meant to Hurt
Little Suzie didn’t include your daughter in her after school playdate. So you take to Facebook to passive aggressively air your issue and post a picture of your daughter and Suzie’s best friend having lunch.
Behavior like this is not not only immature, it can also end up hurting your daughter in the end. Refrain from airing your issues on Facebook and keep your private squabbles private.
Facebook can be a wonderful and effective means of gaining support for your child’s medical cause. Unfortunately, child identity theft can occur with medical records. All of your kid’s medical information—including personal IDs, specific conditions, and allergies—should always be kept private.
Your Kids Behaving Badly
Kids can be obedient, they can be naughty, and they can be somewhere in between. The public space is no place to judge and ask for advice for the good or bad behavior of your child. Posts like this will not only embarrass him but also cause others to judge him or to judge you for your parenting skills (and lack thereof).
Anything Your Child Asks You Not to Post
Your child begs you not to put a picture of her up on Instagram. You think it’s so darned cute that you ignore her and post it anyway. You’ve not only betrayed her trust, but you’ve also opened her up to potential bullying. Respect your kids and their wishes—especially when it has to do with their privacy on social media.
In all of these cases, let this thought be your guide: If you find yourself questioning whether a picture should be posted, the answer is always a most definite no.