Online Security: ‘Sharenting’ the New Activity for Proud Parents?
I have a confession to make. I’m a 30-something photographer’s daughter. This may not mean much to you, but to me it means that I have to contend with a brown envelope full of embarrassing photographs of me as a child which my father took with the ends of film from his sporting photography jobs.
However, this envelope is safe in my parent’s home, the paper contents shown only to family members or friends in a trusted environment. While my embarrassing photos are indeed embarrassing (and I share one here with you!) for the most part they stay private. Spare a thought then for today’s babies and children. Their parents, digital natives or active web users, are sharing their children’s images, videos and intimate details on the web for all to see.
People love to talk about their children, it’s only natural. When it comes to social media however, people still love to talk about their children. And we all know someone who perhaps talks and shares a little too much online, a term which this week we saw referred to as “sharenting”. We don’t all need to know that Julie’s changed the sheets six times tonight because little Freddie is ill. And while potty training is a big parenting challenge, do we need to know the exact details of little Betty’s potty usage?
Parents do need to think before they post. While most images, videos and status updates will stay between friends and family, once a child grows into a teen and begins to have an Internet presence of his or her own, much of the parent’s opinion on that child will remain online, searchable by anyone. In addition, if privacy settings are not locked down, a child’s image could conceivably be shared by anyone and to anyone across the web.
The online family safety experts at Norton suggest the following top tips for parents to help keep their children, and their personal data, safe online.
- Look at and lock down your privacy settings on your social networks. And check back regularly, as settings can change. In particular, ensure that friends of friends can’t see and share your images and statuses. Remember if you tag a friend, people who know that person can see the image.
- Undertake due diligence on your and your child’s digital footprint. If your friends tag you in their photos, check and reassure yourself you’re happy for those images to be shared with a potentially wide audience – and if not, untag yourself.
- Think before you post. Would you be happy for your baby to read what you’re saying now when he or she is grown?Parents, like all responsible Internet users, should be considerate of others. Don’t comment, post or tag in a way to upset someone else. And if your child or someone else asks you remove something, do it.
Emma Jeffs, Internet Security Expert, Norton by Symantec.