Do These 5 Things to Step Up Your Kids’ Safety Online

It’s so easy to overshare in the Age of the Internet. From selfies to what you ate for dinner, oversharing is the norm. But what if your pictures and posts are helping to provide a crystal-clear picture of your life for criminals? Military families often adhere to OPSEC and PERSEC, but fail to remember that posts on social media can break both easily.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when shepherding your kids’ privacy online:

1. Be careful when sharing photos of your kids

They’re adorable. . . but photos of children can easily be saved onto phones and hard drives to use for nefarious reasons. You and your spouse should talk about your family’s specific boundaries when it comes to your kids’ pictures online. Some families adhere to a strict “no photos” policy, while others will only post photos from the side or back. Others may use digital stickers or distortion tools to keep their children’s faces private when sharing publicly.

2. Know your settings

Facebook has an intricate group of privacy settings. You can omit a large group of people–or exclude just one person– from seeing a particular post. Creating a list of close family members and friends who are safe to share with is a smart move. Other social media platforms do not have as robust privacy settings–you often only have the choice between making your entire profile public or private.

3. Keep some things offline

The bath pictures and naked pictures are rites of passage for kids around the globe. . . but in today’s day and age, once uploaded, those pictures can easily fall into the wrong hands. Once those pictures are online, you can never get them back. Make sure that you’re completely sure that what you’re uploading is okay in the first place. Use your discretion for what should be shared, and what should be kept private as a record of your child’s first bath, first potty training success, and other moments. If you’re not sure, keep it offline until you’ve made your decision.


4. Think about the future

When your child turns 15, do you think they’ll be pleased that you wrote a 500-word post, in-depth post about their diaper rash, complete with photos? (You know they’re going to find that post. The internet never forgets.) If you write a blog and use full names, will a simple Google search later bring up awkward questions for a date or a potential first boss? It sounds crazy now, but as this generation of kids becomes the first to have their entire lives documented through the internet, the consequences of oversharing are yet to fully be seen. If you need to share more sensitive moments because you’re afraid you’ll forget (or think they’re funny), do things the old fashioned way: Grab a journal and start writing.

5. Use code words

If you live a very public life online, consider not using your child’s full name when posting about them. Some families might use initials or nicknames in place of their actual names, leaving casual acquaintances and strangers in the dark. You might also avoid talking about what school your child attends, their schedule, or other intimate details. Don’t worry– close family and friends who know your kids won’t feel left out. And if they do, simply explaining yourself should be enough: They should want to protect your children, too.

By J.G. Noll