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Back To School! Is Sharing Photos Online A Risky Thing To Do?

As the summer season winds down and the school year begins, it's a tradition for many parents to share ‘Back to School’ photos of their children on social media. These heartwarming snapshots capture the excitement and anticipation of a new academic year. However, in an age where online privacy concerns and digital safety are paramount, many parents are left wondering if sharing photos online of their kids is a good, or even responsible, idea.

In this blog, we will explore the pros and cons of sharing 'Back to School' photos, and offer some tips to increase your child's safety in the digital world.

Sharenting: Meaning and definition

The term ‘sharenting' combines the words ‘sharing’ and ‘parenting’, and refers to the practice of parents posting updates, images and videos of their children's daily activities, milestones, and achievements. Sharenting has become an increasingly common practice, especially as there are now even more social media platforms to choose from, depending on your preferences.

An article from June 2022 stated that while parents’ posts may seem harmless enough, ‘studies estimate "sharenting" will play a role in two-thirds of identity fraud cases facing young people by 2030’, and that experts have deduced that parents unintentionally place their children ‘at risk of hacking, facial recognition tracking, pedophilia and other online threats to privacy and security when they overshare on social media’.

Posting 'Back to School' photos online: Why do we do it?

  • Celebrating milestones: Sharing photos of kids online can seem like a rite of passage. 'Back to School' photos allow parents to celebrate their child's milestone moments - and in the digital age, if it’s not on social media, did it even happen?
  • Connecting with family and friends: Social media provides a convenient platform for staying connected with family and friends, especially those who live far away. Sharing photos of kids online allows loved ones to be a part of your child's life.
  • Building community: Posting 'Back to School' photos can also help build a sense of community among parents. It creates opportunities for conversations and shared experiences with others going through the same phase of life.

Dangers of posting kids’ photos on social media

However, although it is easy to see the appeal of posting images of cute kids on social media, ‘sharenting’ raises various privacy and ethical concerns, and we must address the dangers of sharing photos online:

  • Privacy risks: One of the primary concerns associated with sharing photos of your children online is the privacy aspect. Once an image is posted online, the owner loses control of it. These images can become accessible to a much wider audience, including people you don't know - which can potentially put your child's safety at risk. You have no idea if that photo is going to be tagged or shared by friends who may not have vigilant privacy settings. Online images can also be stolen, downloaded, and manipulated without your knowledge - meaning that strangers, predators, or other shady characters may be able to access the images.
  • Consent and autonomy issues: As children grow older, they may not want their childhood photos publicly available, and may develop their own preferences regarding online visibility. Posting such images without their consent can lead to conflicts and discomfort in the future. Incidentally, it’s important to also take care that you do not post images of other people’s kids online by mistake. This could inadvertently happen in a group photo, or in an area with a lot of kids present e.g. at a park playground or birthday party, and may cause angst for other parents who haven’t consented to sharing photos online.
  • Data collection: Many social media platforms collect data, including photos, for various purposes. This data could be used for targeted advertising or other less benign purposes, raising questions about how your child's image might be used in the future.
  • Future impact: Sharenting can have long-term implications for children as they grow older. The images and information shared by parents may become a permanent part of their digital footprint. Children may have concerns about their online presence, and the content shared about them may affect their relationships, self-esteem, and future opportunities.
  • Cybersecurity: Posting information about a child's life, routines, and activities can potentially make them vulnerable to online threats, including identity theft or cyberbullying. Parents need to be mindful of the information they share to protect their child's digital safety.
  • Digital literacy: Parents should also consider the importance of teaching their children about digital literacy, online safety, and responsible internet use. This education can help children navigate the digital world more safely and confidently.

How to safely share photos online

If social media is your thing and you still really want to upload that ‘Back to School’ photo, next birthday pic, or latest funny home video - here are some tips to help make sharing photos online a safer experience:

  • Adjust ‘Privacy Settings’: Most social media platforms allow you to adjust the privacy settings for your posts. Consider limiting your audience for kids’ photos to close friends and family only, or perhaps creating a private album that only a certain audience can view.
  • Avoid sharing identifying information: Refrain from including information such as full names, name of your child’s school, addresses, or any other personally identifiable information in your posts e.g. school uniforms that identify location. Check that no other comments on the photo give away any private details either.
  • Get consent: As your child gets older, involve them in the decision-making process. Ask for their consent before sharing any photos that may affect their online presence.
  • Be mindful of timing: Avoid sharing photos in real-time, especially if your posts reveal your child's exact location or routine. Wait until you've returned home to share these moments.
  • Educate yourself: Stay informed about the latest privacy and security settings on the social media platforms you use. These settings can change over time, so it's essential to keep up to date.
  • Use secure platforms: Choose reputable social media platforms that prioritize user privacy and data protection.
  • Metadata awareness: Be mindful that most digital photos contain information concerning the date, time, and GPS location of the photo, which could potentially be used to a threat actor’s advantage.

Ultimately, parenting in a social media-happy word involves learning to strike a balance between sharing parenting joys, and protecting a child's digital privacy and future interests. Sharing 'Back to School' photos of your children online can be a heartwarming way to celebrate their milestones and connect with loved ones. However, it's essential to be mindful of the potential privacy and security risks associated with posting these images, especially with regard to identity theft and online protection.

By taking precautionary measures and being selective about what you share and with whom, you can strike a balance between celebrating your child's journey and ensuring their safety in the digital world. It must be noted that every family's circumstances are different, so it's important to make decisions that align with your values and comfort level regarding online privacy and security.

For more information on online safety for kids and parenting in a digital world, visit

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