In the digital age, it’s more important than ever that we teach our kids the importance of online safety.
Studies have shown that many parents aren’t particularly confident when it comes to navigating privacy settings on their social media. Despite this, they’re are still posting images of their children online, along with potentially sensitive information. Before we discuss the importance of online safety with our kids, we need to educate ourselves about the risks of exposing our children to the virtual world. It’s important to note that regardless of your privacy settings on social media, nothing you post can ever be considered completely private. The moment information and images of your children that you’ve posted reach complete strangers, friends of friends or data-gathering advertisers, they cease to be within your control.
Alternatives to social media
Many parents feel comfortable posting photos of their children online as soon as they’re born, wanting to share their excitement and pride with their friends and family immediately after the birth. While there’s much debate about what kinds of things are or aren’t acceptable to share – generic baby pics, as opposed to a bathtime photo of your toddler or a video of them having a tantrum – it’s a topic that requires more thought than we’ve been giving it. If you feel unsure or uncomfortable sharing information about your kids, or fear that they might suffer consequences in the future, there are alternatives you can consider.
Give your children veto power
If your children are old enough to make decisions about their privacy, make sure you run photos or stories by them and get their permission before posting anything that includes them on social media. You might find that they enjoy the praise they receive when you’ve posted a photo of them looking great at their primary school graduation ceremony, but aren’t quite as thrilled to have that hilarious old photo of themselves covered in spaghetti shared online. Remember, those experiences belong to your children and leaving them in control of what’s done with their personal history encourages a strong sense of identity and self-esteem.
Save it for when they’re older
If your kids aren’t old enough to make the decision for themselves about what can or can’t go on social media, you could create a folder for images and stories that you think they might one day allow to be uploaded online. Save all the funny and poignant photos and memories and share them with family and close friends via email or private messages, but don’t post them on social media. When your kids are old enough, go through these memories and decide together which of them, if any, your children are comfortable having posted online. They’ll appreciate the respect and self-control you’ve modelled and learn a lesson about the seriousness of putting personal information on social media.
Take it offline
Why not go old-school? Print special photos and make notes of happy or important memories and milestones; then use these to create a scrapbook about your child. This way, their memories and life events are preserved solely for them, rather than for public consumption. The scrapbook makes a special birthday gift when they’re older and your child will definitely appreciate not only the gesture, but the time and care taken to produce it.
FEATURE: CAITLIN GENG IMAGE: FOTOLIA.COM