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Social Media Safety Considerations for Parents

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There are many blogs, posts and studies about the impact of social media on teenagers and young children. It’s been proven time and time again that social media use among children can be harmful to their emotional and mental health.

However, these posts often ignore another social media phenomenon that can be harmful: sharenting, or the practice of parents sharing their children’s information, photos and videos online.

Sharenting specifically refers to parents of school-aged children, who share photos or videos of their children on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook. Though it can be tempting to share fun photos of your kids, there are many safety considerations to think about before hitting send.

Risks of Sharenting

Many kids have a social media presence before they are old enough to be aware of social media at all. Before deciding to post their child on social media, parents should consider the potential risks that come with doing so.

1.     Safety

The Internet is a big — and sometimes dangerous — place. Even when parents have privacy settings or safety measures in place, there isn’t always a guarantee that photos and data are truly private. Posting a child’s photo can pose a potential risk to their privacy and safety, and create a cyber footprint for the child before they are old enough to have an online presence.

2.     Bullying

School can be a hard place for kids, who may at some point experience bullying. Posting photos or videos of children online, especially ones that are potentially embarrassing, can feed these bullies in school or in the community. Posting a child’s image online opens them up to judgement from strangers and friends alike.

3.     Embarrassment

Everyone knows the embarrassment of being tagged in a photo they don’t like — the same philosophy applies to posting photos or videos of children. Though you might think your child looks cute with food all over their face or doing a silly dance, they might be embarrassed to see that content online. It’s a best practice to ask your child whether they consent to having the image posted before uploading it.

In a recent survey conducted by Bestow, however, the majority of Americans didn’t think it was necessary to ask children for permission before posting their photo. In reality, asking permission before posting is a good practice to ensure the child feels supported and avoids feelings of embarrassment or shame.

4.     Permanence

The old adage that nothing posted on the Internet is ever fully deleted rings true. Though bath time photos or silly pictures of food-splattered faces may be cute in the moment, it’s worth considering that these images could potentially follow your child throughout their life.

Best Practices for Parents Online

Of course, parents will sometimes want to post pictures of their children to brag or celebrate. There are certain ways to do so safely.

5.     Avoid Posting Location or Other Private Details

If you’re posting a photo of your child — especially on public platforms — it’s best to avoid including private details that could possibly lead strangers or predators to your location. Don’t include geotags or identifying buildings, street signs or landmarks that could identify where you live.

6.     Ask Your Child What They Think

If you’re unsure whether your child will approve of a photo or video you want to post of them, just ask! Avoid potentially embarrassing or upsetting your child by getting their permission to post them on your social media. This will make your child feel more supported and independent while also helping them curate their own online footprint.

7.     Consider the Future

Before hitting send, remember that you’re posting something that could potentially follow your child throughout their lives. Avoid posting nude, inappropriate or embarrassing content that your child may be embarrassed about when they grow up.