In general at Mykidstime we are in favour of technology and social media, after all we run a website and Facebook pages for parents! But sometimes when you hear scary stories about things that happen to children’s photos online it makes us stop to think again about technology and safety. Here is our guide to posting images and how to stay safe online.
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Using the internet and in particular social media and sharing information and images creates a “digital footprint”. As parents we need to be aware of what this means for our children if we post anything online about them.
There are some sensible precautions you can take to ensure that when you upload your photos and images online or on social media, they are safe.
#1. Make sure all privacy settings are in place.
It’s a good idea to review these regularly as often social media channels change them a little (sneakily) without you realising. And you and your child should review their privacy settings for anything they use online.
If you’re a regular Facebook user, then run over their Privacy Check-up. Go to your settings top right and click and you’ll get a menu of options that are worth reading through again.
Tip: Did you know you can limit the audience of a particular post on Facebook?
So if you are sharing a photo you can pick e.g. only Family to show it to. Facebook remembers the audience for the last time you posted and keeps that until you change it.
So if you are used to posting to friends and you want to change this, just click the drop down that says Friends and you will get more options including Family to pick from.
#2. Remember once something is posted online it’s out of your control.
Anyone can alter, crop and edit your words and images. Always think about this before posting. You don’t need to be paranoid here, but you do need to always have that at the back of your mind. Not everyone online is altruistic and kind unfortunately.
Be sure to tell your kids to *think before they post*! Remind them that everything they post can be seen by a vast and invisible audience.
#3. Never post photos you wouldn’t want everyone to see
Again think about the fact that the world can potentially see the image. Think about how that image might be viewed in the future when your child is older, or if prospective employers were searching, for example.
When you discuss sharing photos online with your child tell them to apply “The Granny Rule”. If they wouldn’t show a particular photo to their granny then it probably shouldn’t be online.
#4. Change the location settings you have on any device you take photos with
Unfortunately when we take a picture with a smart device and upload it, information about our location can be loaded up too without us realising.
Location services in smart device cameras place a stamp that can be used by computer-savvy web users to find out where a person is located.
Go into the privacy and general settings of your phone or device and turning off “location services” for each camera app that you have.
Make sure to turn off all location permissions on social media channels too.
#5. Use a nickname for your child
If you are sharing an image, then consider using a nickname rather than their real name. Avoid giving out their full names, names of friends, or other information such as school name that gives away their location.
#6. Read the Terms of Service before posting on websites or social media
You probably accepted the terms of service of the channel, without reading, or by scanning quickly, at the time you joined the social media channel. Make sure that you know their current Terms and Conditions.
For example, by posting photos, you may be granting permission for that channel or website to use your photos online and in print.
If you enter photos into a competition, make sure you know the T&C.
#7. Consider resizing images or watermarking before uploading them.
If you make your image sizes much smaller before uploading them then someone downloading them gets a poorer resolution.
In your camera or app menu, go to the Settings tab or section, and select a lower resolution or smaller image size for the photos it will capture.
You can also use apps such as Image Resizer to resize or Snapseed to add a watermark to your images before you share them online.
#7. Google your family regularly
Check what is appearing online for your family regularly and if anyone has posted an image you aren’t happy with, e.g. maybe a photo of your child posted from a birthday party, then at least you can request the owner to take it down.
#8. Switch to using photo-sharing sites
You could also consider switching to using photo-sharing sites such as Picasa and Flickr that require users to log in to see pictures (unlike on social media, where all your followers can see them).
What to do if you find your pictures online that were taken or put up without permission
- If the use of the image is inappropriate, then contact the authorities and report it.
- Contact the social channel or website to request it to be taken down.
- Find any copies or versions of the photos online, and request removal as soon as possible from the other sites. Techhive.com has a useful article on how to find your images online.
- Tell the website or channel that it’s your picture, or you are in it and you did not give permission to be used in this manner or you own the copyright.
Some useful further articles to read
- Good tips in this article by The Irish Examiner 10 Things You Should Know Before Posting Pictures of Your Children on Social Media
- Common Sense Media has a good article Is It Safe to Post Pictures of My Kid Online?
- Webwise has lots of resources explaining tech and social media to parents. Check out their What is Photo Sharing article.
- Irespectonline.com has this good article about educating teens.
Over to you now. What are your views on this topic? Do you feel nervous about it? Do you check privacy settings regularly? Tell us your thoughts on the comments below.