Would you put your child’s full name, date of birth, home address, or the name of their school online for just anyone to know? What about special details, like your child’s favorite color or movie, where they hang out after school, or the cute nickname everyone calls them – would you reveal that to a person who might misuse the information?
No sane parent would even consider deliberately revealing such intimate details, especially to a stranger who might want to use the info to exploit their child.
Unfortunately, many parents do exactly that – reveal confidential information about their child online. While an unscrupulous person delights in taking advantage of that negligence, any loving parent would cringe at the idea. While you may vehemently protest that you would never be foolish enough to risk your child’s wellbeing by posting their personal information online, even the most well-intentioned parents don’t always realize the dangers. Consider the real life experiences of these parents:
After posting an inquiry in an online forum she belonged to, a young mother sent her email address to a respondent. That complete stranger was able to find out that the young mom had two sons, ages 4 and 9, their favorite foods, sports teams, the church they attended, and their names. All of the information was obtained simply by typing in the young mother’s email address.
Although she didn’t have a social networking account, one parent found out that her pre-school aged daughter’s pictures were available to view on Facebook. Because the account hosting the pictures was a public account, her daughter’s pictures were available to the world. She quickly realized that the pictures she emailed to long-distance family members had been posted online without her permission.
Remember that the same people behind the evil of viruses and spam are the same types who love to find parents who give out a little too much information about their children. So how could those two parents have better protected their children online? Simple – by taking a few uncomplicated precautions, they could have avoided the dangerous position they inadvertently placed their children in.
Don’t put your child’s full name online – ever. You may choose to use your child’s first name in your blog posts or on your website, but if your last name is online, then so is theirs. The better idea? Use a nickname or pet name for your child, preferably one that you don’t actually use for them in person.
Crop your photos carefully. Is your house number in the background of that cute picture of your little one? If the name of their school visible? Be careful how much you reveal in those family photos.
When you can utilize privacy options, do so. Always take advantage of the options that are offered by whatever website you use. They may seem restrictive, but they’re certainly worth it.
Be wary of online offers that seem geared toward your children. If you receive an email offering you an opportunity to put your child in a contest, fashion show, or some other chance to prove your child’s worth, ignore it. If you are interested in having your child compete in an event, go directly to the source.
Proud parents may want to share their offspring with the world, but wise parents will make sure to share safely.