Sharing photos on social media of your recent family holiday seems innocent enough, until you discover that charming photo of your child at the beach is being circulated in a paedophile ring.
As stated by the Office of the Children’s eSafety Commissioner, “It’s important to remember that some people may have a different interest in your child than you do. There have been cases where innocent images posted on social media or other websites have been ‘harvested’ and used for other purposes.”
In other words, what is “erotic” to a paedophile can differ vastly to your own expectations.
So if we must share photos online, here are some things to be mindful of:
- Don’t make it easy for predators. Avoid uploading photos of your children in their swimmers, underwear, nappy, in a state of undress and especially if they are naked.
- Predators use Photoshop too. Can the photos you are uploading be altered to look like your children are part of a sexual act, can someone else be inserted into the photo or can a lewd comment be applied in context? It’s not a pleasant thing to imagine, but you have to think like a predator.
- The Bible tells us to “do to others as you would have them do to you”. Would you post the photo online if the subject were you and not your child?
- Keep it private. If you must post your child’s photo on Facebook, share it just with the people you actually know. Make sure your posts aren’t set to “Public”, visible to the entire internet.
- Geo-location and other identifiers. Avoid “checking in” to places or tagging locations to photos, and if your children are older, don’t post photos of them in their school uniforms or in front of recognisable landmarks. The less the internet can identify where your child lives, the better.
If you’ve taken all precautions and believe it is fine to post your children’s images online, for those with older children, Ruth Dearing, author of How to Keep Your Children Safe Online, says, “Definitely let your children know . . . and ask for their permission first. Make sure you let them know who is likely to see the picture and that it will be difficult, if not impossible, to remove once it's posted.”