The dark side of social media and how to tread carefully


By Andrew Muir, Founder of Momatu

Alarming statistics show that more than 80% of children have an online presence before the age of two, and the average child has almost 1,500 images of them posted online before their fifth birthday –– yikes!

While social media is a wonderful way to share your child’s special moments with friends and family, many parents forget that these people won’t necessarily be the only ones who are privy to them. For this reason, it’s no wonder that experts are increasingly cautioning parents against “sharenting”, a term to describe parents who incessantly share posts and photos of their children to social media.

A recent report by OFCOM in the UK found that while many parents do share images of their children online, 56% of parents don’t. Of these non-sharers, 87% said they actively chose not to in order to protect their child’s privacy. In addition to privacy, common concerns of parents that were cited in the report were the risk of images they posted being used in a sexual nature, or for the purpose of stalking and even kidnapping.

It goes without saying that most people have good intentions when sharing images of their children online. And let’s face it, we all want to celebrate and share our children’s proudest and more precious moments with those closest to us. What we need to keep in mind though is that sharing these on social media means that the hundreds of ‘friends’ (and their friends, and friends of friends) that we’ve accumulated over the years are also often able to view them.

This is not to say that people should stop posting photos of their kids altogether, but rather that they should be aware of the risks in doing so, and take any reasonable step they can to ensure they are protecting their children’s privacy online.

Ways to keep your child safe when sharing online

Be Aware of Your Privacy Settings

Most social media platforms offer custom privacy settings. For any albums or images that include photos of your children, set the privacy setting controls to custom, which allows you to choose the people that can see your photos. At a minimum, always make sure these settings are set to ‘friends’ and not ‘friends of friends’ or ‘public’.

It’s also worth checking regularly that your social media accounts are set to private as app updates and software changes can alter your settings.

Turn off Geolocation Tagging

It’s easy to forget that social media posts often provide indicators that enable viewers to easily identify your location. Platforms including Instagram and Facebook are required by law to ask if you’d like them to use your current location; however if you’re ever prompted with this question and you’re posting a photo of your child, select ‘no’.

Further to this, if revealing your location is a concern, it’s best to avoid posting photos with telling landmarks or identifiable features such as restaurant names in the background.

Lower Your Resolution

Believe it or not, people often pull images of kids from the internet to use in advertising material. By lowering the resolution of the photos you’re posting online, they’re less likely to be able to print or enlarge the images.

Use a Private Photo Sharing App

There are a number of private photo sharing apps that parents can use to keep track of and share their child’s most important memories in a fun and safe way.

Momatu is just one example. It’s a new free private social media platform that was created with the expressed purpose to provide parents with a place to connect, and share their children’s most precious moments, with only those closest to them.

Users of the app can capture, sort and co-create their family’s history into beautiful timelines that can be shared and enjoyed by only the people they’ve invited. And this way parents can post to their heart’s content, and rest assured that they know exactly who is viewing their photos.

Momatu provides parents with their own private space to connect, and share their child’s most precious memories with only those closest to them. It’s a digital timeline app that allows parents to capture and sort their little one’s milestones and moments into sophisticated timelines that can be viewed and interacted with by only those they have invited. Momatu also allows users to design and print their timelines into beautiful, hard-copy photobooks that can be kept and enjoyed for years to come.

Peninsula Kids – Autumn 2019


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