New Year Photo Sharing Reminder

It’s that time of year again when parents are warned about sharenting/posting their children’s first day back at school photos online. If you do this, you’re not alone. In a…...
January 25, 2023
by pixevety

It’s that time of year again when parents are warned about sharenting/posting their children’s first day back at school photos online. If you do this, you’re not alone. In a survey of 1000 parents in the US conducted by SecurityORG, 75% of respondents share photos of their kids on social media.

Whilst this is well within the rights of parents, it is worth dedicating some serious thought towards the implications of sharing.

With cybercrime on the rise, sharing such photos will tell a potential criminal your child’s school name and address, their age, and in most cases, their location. This information can then be used for digital kidnapping, identity theft, physical abuse, and other cybercrime activities.

In June 2022, the word “sharenting” entered the Oxford English Dictionary

In an advisory issued in early 2020 during the pandemic, the FBI warned about the potential for child abductors and kidnappers to use social media in luring children instead of in-person interaction. Sharenting makes our kids vulnerable to online predators.

“Sharenting” is when parents overshare content about their children on the internet. Parents engage in sharenting for many reasons: because they’re proud of their children and want to tell family and friends about their children’s milestones and daily lives; to seek support from and offer advice to other parents; and to share memories. Influencers can also earn substantial amounts from brand partnerships when sharing their family lives online.

The emergence of what researchers are now calling ‘Internet Parentsphere’ has created a unique dilemma for child privacy rights. Even back in 2018, a study by Barclays showed that by 2030, Sharenting could result in cyber frauds worth £676 million – that was pre-pandemic.

Sharenting can impact a child’s sense of self and privacy. It robs them from forming their own unique story, on their own terms and with consent. By the time a child reaches his/her teens, the social media profile their parents have created on them is a publicly open journal.

Sadly, the visual medium to document a child’s life has evolved into a reward-based transactional relationship of likes and shares with social media algorithms keeping you engaged, at the cost of your child’s well-being.

Exploitation by third parties

One major area of concern is the unfettered collection of children’s data by technology companies, websites, and other internet users.

While companies can use the data to create profiles about what that child might want to purchase or their interests, paedophiles, kidnappers, and human traffickers can also easily access this information, especially when not shared with a private group of individuals over an encrypted service (platforms like my company pixevety offers). 

As soon as you share images online, they are no longer yours – they become public property or worse still, used for commercial purposes by companies.

Although these scenarios sit at the worst end of the spectrum, data collected for marketing purposes can also pose risks, as the information helps establish a permanent digital footprint for that child that they never consented to. Do you know what these companies are doing with your data?

And First Day of School photos?

A picture tells a thousand words, and lately there has been a trend where parents have asked their child on their first day of school to hold a photo board in front with their name, school name, year etc.

When a child’s face, uniform, school, year group, and even sometimes teacher’s face or name is shared publicly online, it can be accessed by anyone. It may seem harmless to share such special moments with family and friends but, as we all know, when you scratch below the shiny surface of social media, the audience is not so appealing.

Yearly, this message alerting parents to the risks of back-to-school photo sharing circulates within the spheres of not only privacy experts, but also police officials around the world. At the commencement of the 2022/23 school year in the US, several experts reminded parents of this.

In a warning surrounding back to school photo sharing, Australian Federal Police Commander for the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation (ACCCE), Hilda Sirec, stated “Instances of online grooming has started with information that parents and carers have shared online”.

Simple things you can do during this ‘back-to-school’ season:

  • Avoid sharing your child’s full name, school, age, location, and uniform
  • Think consent before sharing anything about your child on social media, always ask yourself “how would my child feel about me publishing this photo?” or, if it’s an older child, ask for their consent before posting
  • Skip social media all together (wherever possible) and share photos with family and friends using privacy-centric photo sharing apps
  • Review your own social media privacy settings (this should be done regularly)
  • Remind your child of the importance of their online privacy, especially when sharing photos, when they use social media.

Protecting the photos of children is our game!

Protecting millions of images of children on behalf of schools and families is what we do. If your school is looking for a system that automatically analyses and applies photo consent in real-time to your child’s photos, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

The pixevety team is looking forward to another successful year of partnering globally withhundreds ofschools and thousands of families to assist in the protection and safer sharing of child photos and other media. Our platform is fully compliant, driven by privacy-by-design principles and user-friendly. 

In this ever-evolving space of image privacy, it’s hard to keep up with changes, so keep an eye out for our regular pixevety blogs which can be accessed via our website where we share our latest insights regarding all things image-privacy and child protection.

Help your kids to have a safer start to 2023! Think twice before sharing photos of children online as the risks are well-known and clear.

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