Before you post your kids’ pictures — beware!

Oh, my little one did something really funny — but look out for hidden dangers in your social-media posts.

Before you post your kids’ pictures — beware!

Your sweetie is so adorbs, you can’t wait to share her entertaining exploits with family and friends. All it takes to post on social media is a quick snap and publish, all done on your trusty smartphone. Latest figures show that in Singapore, Facebook has some 140,000 mum users aged 21 to 45, and the majority log on almost daily.

Indeed, social media lets you show your friend half a world away what your little one looks like or what she enjoys eating with the greatest of ease. While it’s exciting to share good news social networks with those close to you, it’s important to be cautious about uploading your private pictures and even personal information, so as to protect your child’s safety.

Lynette Owens, Trend Micro’s global director (Internet Safety for Kids & Families Program), has useful tips parents should consider before they hit the “publish” button.

1. TURN OFF LOCATION SETTINGS
Geo-location settings on mobile devices are usually switched on by default. So, a location tag is added every time you upload a photo online, which makes it possible for anyone, even strangers, to pinpoint where you and you loved ones are at a particular time. Not wise when someone with ill intentions may misuse this information.

So, while you may want to tell everyone that the family is heading to the theme park today, keep in mind that predators may know where you are and what your kids look like and take advantage. Even if there’s a non-specific neighbourhood location tag, someone can narrow down where your child attends school and how he makes his way home. Switch it off if you don’t need it — share your feelings about your little one, but don’t provide specific details as to where it took place.

2. SHARE SPARINGLY
It’s human nature to want to share exciting news with others. Owens points out that when you post information on your little one so early into his life, you are creating his digital footprint for him. She adds, “This information can be found online later on when they are teenagers or young adults.”

Consider how you would feel if your parents posted silly photos about you and ask yourself if you would be fine with people, such as a potential employer, seeing those photos now. If so, refrain from doing the same. After all, junior also has the right to privacy, too. So, before you post, ask yourself:

1. Could this humiliate my child in the future? Many parents post silly photos of their child on social media for laughs, but what is funny today could embarrass your child in front of his buds time to come.

2. Is the information I am posting sensitive? This could be telephone numbers, passwords or addresses, anything that could pose as a threat to your safety. Also remember to check what is in your background, is there any information that could compromise your loved ones’ well-being?

3. Could this impact my child’s future opportunities? In this digital age, you can find out so much about a stranger in a matter of seconds. Bosses google job applicants routinely. So, photos of your child throwing a tantrum will look bad in front of his future boss.

Owens notes, “Share information sparingly, instead of every single moment. If every single moment of your children’s lives are permanently documented online, then just about anybody could figure out their life story and claim to be someone who knows them well, even strangers. ”

Instead of using social media to share personal information, use a family members group chat or text someone directly instead. By the way, not everyone wants to know what’s going on with your brilliant baby all the time, so resist flooding their Facebook or Instagram feeds with posts about you and your baby.

3. DELAY UPDATES
Resist uploading photos of where you currently are — it’s like switching off your location settings — posting photos while you are at various places will give others clues to your lifestyle habits, as well as what your daily routines are, which pose a threat to your safety if the info falls into the wrong hands.

This includes posting live updates and discussing what you are doing on Facebook as strangers will be able to work out your daily routine, such as when your house will be empty. Be patient! There’s no harm publishing a photo a little later, after you have left the premises.

Owens warns, “Anyone who posts information on social networks should understand upfront that these are public platforms. Therefore, even when you use privacy settings, anything you post can be shared with just about anybody else.”

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SAFETY CHECK

Secure your social media accounts and always review the safety settings from time to time.

On Instagram The privacy settings are on the top right hand of your profile page, under the “Private Account” slider. So, your posts will only be seen by followers you already have. From then on, you can decide whom you allow to follow you and view your posts.

On Twitter The privacy settings are on the top right hand corner of your home page under the “Settings” menu, after you click on your profile picture icon. Choose the “Protect My Tweets” option after you hit the “Security and Privacy” button. Like Instagram, you’ll have to approve any users who want to follow you.

On Facebook Change your privacy settings easily under the “Timeline Settings” tab (located at the top of your Timeline page). Facebook even has a “Privacy Checkup” tab now, located at the tool bar on the top right hand side. You can easily edit who can see your content and contact you and so on. For maximum security, set your posts to “Friends Only” and don’t hesitate to remove people from this Friends list you’re uncomfortable when sharing information about your child.

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Photo: ING Image

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