April is the Month of the Military Child, which emphasizes the importance of children and family within the armed forces community.
Better Business Bureau Northwest and Pacific salutes our military and their families with tips for maintaining your child’s online privacy and avoiding overexposing your family’s information. We know the effects of what we share online can be far-reaching, and the value of social media for military folks trying to maintain connections with friends and family can’t be overstated. However, the platforms have grown so rapidly that we may not have had enough time to recognize the need for personal data protection.
According to Gizmodo, more than 300 million photos are uploaded to Facebook each day. The amount of information users willingly share is likely too great to measure. However, once that information is shared and photos are posted, personal control of that content is gone and you may be opening your family to an unwanted invasion of privacy or something worse – online predators. The following tips are from the Children’s Advertising Review Unit, or CARU, at https://bbbprograms.org/programs/caru/.
Let your kids decide their digital future. Many “sharents,” those parents who share a lot of photos online, have posted hundreds of images before children have learned to walk. It’s understandable to want to share your child’s most adorable moments, but take a moment to consider that when you post these photos, you share your child’s personal content without their consent. The genie can’t be put back in the bottle; once kids have an online presence, it can’t be undone.
Avoid embarrassing photos. Be mindful if you are going to share photos of your child. You don’t want an embarrassing image or story that you may use to lovingly tease your child to become a bully’s bait down the road.
Don’t be naïve. What may be adorable to you may be misused by others. A photo of your child in the bathtub, for example, can be captured by someone who can exploit it, manipulate it and even misappropriate it, posting it to other sites.
Hashtags may make you vulnerable. Avoid using hashtags such as #nakedkids, #nakedbaby, etc., or other inappropriate labels that make it easy for ill-intentioned predators to find specific images.
Check your privacy settings. Read and understand privacy policies and settings on your preferred social networks to best protect your data and content. Where possible, set your photos to the highest privacy settings. Although photos posted online can live for eternity, limiting the audience to which they’re shared severely minimizes the possibility of them falling into the wrong hands.
Clean up time. Audit the information-sharing practices of the mobile apps you have on your connected devices. Consider deleting accounts and removing apps that do not employ safe and responsible practices.
Teach good digital citizenship. When it comes time to give your child a smartphone or tablet, help them with its setup. Teach social media safety, including the importance of creating a strong password and the rationale behind it. Remind them that their digital footprint is about more than just images, it’s about interactions as well. Comments and discussions can live online for an eternity.
Constant communication. When your children are old enough to understand, let them know which of thier photos you plan to share. Respect their opinion. If there are images they think are embarrassing or that make them uncomfortable, take them down.
Set limits and stick to them. It’s easy for all of us to be consumed with technology and oversharing. Setting limits on internet usage is a great way to protect personal data. Establish ground rules for use of whatever devices and apps you give your children permission to use.
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