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With the numerous apps and social media platforms out there, it’s become trendy to post photos of your everyday life online. But with the freedom to update your social circle of your comings and goings, comes a hidden danger that could put your safety at risk — especially those of your children. Here’s how you may be oversharenting:
Geotagging your posts
If you make it a habit of letting the world know where you are at all times on social media, it may be time to put a stop to it. Not only are you announcing to everyone that you are not at home, you are also revealing vital information on your day-to-day routine e.g. the location of your child’s school or his daily whereabouts.
Oversharing details about your child
According to a research paper from 2016, 92 per cent of two-year-olds in the United States already have an online presence, no thanks to their parents.
5.2 per cent of photo posts on Facebook mention the child’s first name while 6.2 per cent mention the child’s date of birth. On Instagram, 63 per cent of parents mention their child’s first name in at least one photo, 27 per cent talk about their child’s date of birth, and 19 per cent share both.
You might think it’s harmless sharing because you can choose the audience for each post. However, this gives a false sense of security because you never know who may steal your photos to repost on other websites. This might lead to ‘digital kidnapping’ where the perpetrator passes off your child’s photos as their own, or online bullying where people (both children and adults) make fun of the child’s embarrassing pictures online.
Shaming/disciplining/punishing your child online
Some parents also take to social media to discipline, shame or punish their child. They put up detailed posts or videos about their child’s misbehaviour in hopes of garnering public support or going viral, but forget that such posts could humiliate and follow the child well into adulthood.
So how can parents protect their child online and offline? “Sharenting includes a moral obligation to act with appropriate discretion and with full regard for the child’s safety and well-being,” says Stacey B. Steinberg, the author of the research paper. “Parents, acting in the best interests of their children, can act as shepherds of their children’s online privacy until the children assume ownership over their digital identities.
With this in mind, here are a few tips:
Rethink the concept of ‘stranger danger’
We’re taught from young not to talk to strangers. But what if said stranger already knows your child’s first name and intimate family details thanks to your oversharing online?
What you can do instead:
1. Teach your child how to identify and respond to threatening situations.
2. Teach your child to recognise good strangers who can help them e.g. police officers, teachers, or a parent with children.
3. Remind your child to seek your permission first if an unknown adult asks them to do something without asking permission.
4. Remind them to alert you if an adult asks them to keep a secret that makes them uncomfortable.
5. Remind them that adults should not seek a child’s assistance without their parents.
6. Set a private password that only you and your child know, in case you are unable to pick them up in person and have to send someone else.
7. Remind your child not to go with anyone (including family acquaintances) who doesn’t have the password.
8. Teach your child to shout for help if a stranger threatens them.
Be careful about sharing photos of your baby in states of undress
You don’t want paedophile image sharing websites to data-mine your little one’s photos for insidious purposes.
Talk to your child before sharing
Your child may have done you proud with his latest exam results or artistic masterpiece, but before you broadcast it online, be sure to check in with your child first. Sharenting may garner you public praise, but it may build up an image that your child may not be able to live up to in real life, which could lead to social anxiety. It also makes it hard for your child to understand why it’s important to respect other people’s privacy when his entire life is chronicled online.
We’re not saying that you should swear off social media. As we lead increasingly digital lives many parents have adopted social media as a way of preserving precious family memories. While there’s nothing wrong with sharing pictures or videos of your child, remember to exercise common sense and restrain. After all, you don’t want your child’s photos or information to fall into the wrong hands.