In this age of social media, it’s so easy to want to share a gazillion pictures and videos of your adorable mini-me with mummy pals and relatives. It’s convenient, it’s free and, hey, everyone’s doing it.
One great perk of social media is being able to connect with friends the world over and updating them on your parenting adventures. Notes Sharon Tan, mum to Jaelia, 6 months, and Kaelia, 2, “We don’t meet up often with most of our [friends] because of work and stuff, which is why I post photos of my kids... To update them on how much they have grown.”
However, what’s troubling is that those cute photos of your sweetie might pique the interest of paedophiles. After all, child predators are often tech-savvy sickos who use the anonymity of the Internet to their advantage, trawling it for their next victim.
“Predators can sometimes pretend to be family members picking up children from childcare centres or befriend the children with the aim of luring them away.”
Chong Ee Jay, a Media Literacy Council member, explains that a paedophile’s pursuit of child pornography and stalking are signs of a severe addiction. Seeking such material is how they “act out” their darkest fantasies.
Chong, a Touch Community Services manager, lists what child predators pay attention to in those photos of your tot:
Focuses on your kid’s looks and appearance
- Looks at how your kewpie is dressed, especially if she or he is scantily-clad or worse, nude, for instance, if she or he is posing in fun bathing shots or while swimming.
- Favourite hangout spots Places where you and your preschooler tend to frequent, such as oft-visited playgrounds or their childcare centre.
- Your little one’s favourite food and drinks.
- Noting the names of relatives and friends who are seen repeatedly or tagged in the photos.
He will use such information to groom your child and often downloads and stores these pictures on their computers as well.
Chong adds, “Predators can sometimes pretend to be family members picking up children from childcare centres or befriend the children with the aim of luring them away.” That’s why it’s crucial that you teach your preschooler about stranger danger.
Learn which rules to follow…next!
Chong has rules to follow before you post your child’s photos online…
1. Is it appropriate to share the photo? A picture of your tot bathing or posing in his birthday suit may seem funny or cute but can be misused by paedophiles. Chong adds, “Parents should also consider if the picture would embarrass their children in the future, when they grow up and look back on their digital [history].” If you are in doubt, don’t share it. In fact, under France’s strict privacy laws, parents could face penalties as severe as a year in prison and a fine of €45,000/$68,200 if convicted of publicising intimate details of their children without their consent.
2. Don’t share any pictures of sensitive documents or information Things like your child’s birth certificate, medical records and any forms of identification do not have a place on your social media feed.
Secure your privacy settings by making sure that only family, close pals and friends who are in the photos can see the pictures.
3. Don’t share the location of your photos Many social media apps like Facebook and Instagram come with a geo-tagging feature. This function allows users to share where a picture was taken. Chong cautions against doing so, especially when the location is one of the places you frequent as a family.
4. Always check your privacy settings Chong advises that you get selective about the people you share those pictures with. Secure your privacy settings by making sure that only family, close pals and friends who are in the photos can see the pictures. This keeps strangers from accessing them.
5. Avoid sharing high-resolution pictures of your child’s face in full Sharing such photos of your child may attract the attention of child predators. Plus, you run the risk that someone may misuse your child’s photos without your permission. Chong recounts this chilling anecdote, “My friend’s photo of his child was copied and photo-shopped for use on a childcare centre poster without his permission!”
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