Risks of sharing back to school pictures

We’re all now used to seeing people sharing pictures of their children on social media and for many reasons, there is still debate as to whether this is safe to do.

Many parents with secure social media settings share pictures of their children online; if social media accounts are set to private and only seen by friends and family most of us are comfortable that our pictures are safe. Having said this, it’s important that we continue to consider where we post our pictures, who could be accessing them and for what purpose.

Worryingly, last week we noticed that news pages on Facebook were encouraging parents to post pictures of their children in their school uniforms to their page. As a result some shared pictures of their children stood outside their homes in their school uniforms, with their full names and details of what year they were starting at school. We are conscious that some might not be aware that by sharing onto a public Facebook page such as a news site that anyone can download those photos and, unless you have specifically turned off location sharing, potentially be sharing where you live too.

Parents are understandably wary about their children having secure social media accounts but may feel more relaxed with their own. We have noticed, for example, pictures of children in their school uniforms on Twitter where they can be seen and downloaded by anyone with access to the internet.

There may be some parents who are unsure how security settings work or those who have taken measures to secure their social networks but they are still not fully private, with many on Instagram sharing their geographical location without realising.

There is potential for perpetrators to see personal information such as name and school on public social media pages and use this to seek out a child in person and online and start a conversation with them. This can be the start of the grooming process for some perpetrators of child abuse.

We all go to great lengths to protect our children and keep them safe. Unfortunately, at Safe and Sound, we are all too aware of how something seemingly harmless online can become a very real threat for children and young people.

We would always advise regularly reviewing your security settings and considering where you post pictures of your children and the amount of personal information revealed on them. Despite this, it is always worth repeating that it is never a parent’s fault if a perpetrator uses this information to exploit and abuse; it’s only ever the perpetrator who is to blame.

Have a look at the following advice on the Safer Internet Centre website for security settings for the social networks mentioned in our article:

Twitter
Facebook
Instagram

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