More and more families in Australia are using social media to stay connected, especially if aunties, uncles and grandparents live far away.
It makes sense that we’d use Facebook, Instagram and other social networking sites in this way.
Rather than bulk mail outs, or even mass-emails, we simply let our relatives and friends login and see what’s happening in our lives, and of course, the lives of our children.
And while it may seem fairly innocent to post a photo of your child for relatives to see, it’s very important to consider who else could be seeing those photos.
This is why we’re talking about what really happens when you share photos online, and how to minimise the risks involved.
Sharing photos on Facebook
According to a recent report by sensis.com.au, 93% of all social media users in Australia use Facebook.
Facebook allows its users (people like you and me!) to share photos with others in their network. A network is likely to include family, friends and work colleagues.
Most people tend to ‘Add Friends’ they know in real life or have met at least once. In some instances, people ‘Add Friends’ they have never met before.
The photos you share on Facebook may also be seen by people you don’t know, who are outside your network of friends and family members.
The risks of sharing photos of your kids online
When sharing photos of your children, it’s important to consider your security settings. Many people do not realise that on Facebook, it’s not just ‘Friends’ in your network who can see your photos, but also ‘Friends of Friends’.
There’s even a ‘Public’ setting that allows anyone online to see your photos. If this is switched on, then any person who clicks on your Facebook profile will be able to see the photos you post, including those of your kids.
It’s easy to see why people feel a false sense of community or security on Facebook. In most cases, it’s only your friends and family who comment on posts. But in reality, there may be other people viewing them too.
This is why we recommend reviewing your current Facebook privacy settings.
Ideally, you want to ensure no one but your immediate Facebook Friends can view your photos or posts. This will help to keep your children’s privacy protected online.
If you’re not sure about your photo sharing privacy settings on Facebook, head to this YouTube tutorial.
What about sharing photos of other kids?
Dr Tama Leaver – Senior Lecturer of Internet Studies at Curtin University – told The Huffington Post Australia that the issue of sharing and tagging photos of other children online is a challenging one.
Dr Leaver said a lack of ‘established social norms’ made it difficult to navigate the issue.
Tips for parents
Ideally, you should ask permission from the parent of a child before posting a photo of them online. Admittedly, this can be hard when there are a number of children in the photo.
These tips may help you:
- Find out before the party whether parents are okay with photos of their kids being posted on Facebook.
- Offer to post the photos in a Private Group on Facebook, so only members of the party can see them.
- Block out the faces of other children with an emoji, or blur them out using a photo-editing tool.
In most cases, a conversation is the best solution. This often means simply asking, ‘is it okay if I post pictures from this party on Facebook?’
You’re likely to get a clear response from the parents at the party, and you’ve made also made sure their wishes are respected.
If you’re still in doubt, only post photos featuring your child online (just make sure those security settings are in order first), and keep the group photos to the old-fashioned family album.
Head here for more on Dr Leaver’s views on sharing photos of other children online.
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