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With so many parents using social media sites like Facebook and Instagram to post family photos, it’s time to teach kids their rights.

Dr. Deborah Gilboa, a parenting expert and TODAY contributor, urges parents to use the strictest privacy settings on social media sites to prevent people from stealing photos. But she acknowledges that these measures are often not enough.

“This is a fact of life that if you are going to put photos on the Internet, you are going to quite possibly see them in places you wouldn’t expect. If you are entirely opposed to that, you very may well have to consider not putting them online,” she says.

Dr Gilboa says parents can be smarter about it. Never include children’s first or last names and other identifying information, such as street address, school or other details that could make it easier for predators to locate children.

When kids become old enough — around 7 or 8 years old — parents should ask their children if they can post pictures of them.

“We also want our kids to feel they are in control of what happens to their bodies,” she says, adding parents want their children to be able to say, “No, you can’t post that picture of me. Delete that.”

She says allowing children to veto their parents’ photo decisions empowers them to tell their friends when they do not like something their friends post about them.

“The online world is part of our world,” says Dr Gilboa. “We have to engage in these conversations with them and talk about consent and adapt with the times.”

This could possibly be the first step to empower our children to stand up and prevent cyber bullying? I think it’s a great start that’s for sure!

Always remember. Prevention is better than a cure.

Leonie Smith, the Cyber Safety Lady, says photo stealing is still a very real threat. She has people contacting her regularly to tell her that they have, by chance, come across their photos being used on other sites. And that’s just the people who have actually found them.

“Stolen photos is a massive operation, and one of the reasons is because of fake accounts,” she says. “So Twitter, Instagram are absolutely loaded with fake accounts and for every fake account they need a fake photo. So where do they get them from? People’s profiles.”

Leonie gives these tips on being safe with your private photos of your children:

  • Ask yourself: why are you sharing your photos in the first place? What are you trying to gain from it? If the answer isn’t about how many ‘likes’ you might get and is more about sharing with your family and friends, then there are other ways you can do it without risking them becoming so public.
  • Create a private group: On Facebook, you can create a private group for selected family and friends where you can share your photos safely. Invite people to be part of the group under the proviso that they are not to share your photos elsewhere.
  • Email the photos directly to people you want to share with.
  • Send hard copies to elderly relatives. Even family and friends who have social media accounts might enjoy receiving some good old-fashioned snail mail from you!
  • Make a point to read and understand the privacy rules on each social media site you are signing up for. Go back and re-read the rules every few months, as things can change without you even knowing.
  • If you do decide to continue posting photos of your child online, go back and delete them every few months. People lose their social media accounts all of the time through hacking, so make sure you don’t store up too many photos.

Always get permission from your child once they are of an age to understand so it teaches them they have rights and can say NO!

Facebook do provide detailed information on how to keep your account secure.

Share your thoughts below.

  • Such a good article. I’ve been a bit shocked at the number of my friends who have shared photos of their kid’s first day of school on Facebook with identifying information – like the school’s name, and their child in their school uniform (you can read the school logo) with their name and class. Please please be safe with your kids. Anyone can click and save your photo – you have no idea what they will do with it. Likely not your FB friends but do you know all of your friend’s FB friends? What are your privacy settings? Double check now and make sure you either blur out or omit identifying information.

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  • A great article, couldn’t agree more. Always keep privacy at front of mind and think before you post!

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  • Such great advice – so glad someone is finally saying this.

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  • I post photos of my daughter but also only visable to friends

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  • So true!! I think it’s important to be safe with all pics especially of your children.

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  • A niece of mine posts photos on a specially secured site. She lives interstate and her family including the grandparents can see their beautiful grandaughter. Only a select few people can see the photos.

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  • I’m guilty of posting pictures of my daughter. Everyone on my friends list is either close friends or family though but I do understand that nothing is completely private. This article makes complete sense and I will definitely be rethinking posting pictures from now on.

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  • I post pictures of my daughter, but just visible to my friends. Nothing opened to the all world. I don’t like that at all.

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  • Thank you for this article and for all of the sensible and intelligent advice. I wholeheartedly agree with children having to give their consent on their images. They are people and have rights and I am always appalled when people post pictures of their children in awkward or embarrassing situations. I wonder whether the ‘posters’ would like it in reverse. Our children are precious and should be respected.

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  • Very sensible. Neither I or my husband post photos of our kids.

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  • i don’t feel the need to but for a lot of people it is about keeping family connected. definately lock accs and keep the kids in the loop by asking their permission if you have to. the kids also have the right to not have their pics taken at all, if they choose.

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  • I agree with this article about children’s rights. I also feel that parents are not keeping an eye on their children’s Facebook pages. I have seen many, many public photos of young girls in bikinis in suggestive poses, and have wondered why their parents have allowed these images to be posted.

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  • Some very good points in the article.

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