A picture of a happy girl in a princess dress popped up on my Facebook feed. “I’m proud of my daughter Anna. She’s five years old today!”, said the text above it, posted by Anna’s father. That’s pretty sweet.
Now, the only problem is that I don’t know Anna. I don’t know Anna’s father either – but we have a couple of mutual friends who had commented on the picture. That made it show up on my feed because Anna’s dad had posted the picture publicly.
So now there’s a picture of Anna on the internet that anyone can see. But that’s not all. Besides posting the picture, Anna’s father also revealed Anna’s full name and date of birth. A quick look at his public profile would also tell where they live. What is it again that we tell kids not to share online?
What are the risks?
Posting this kind of information publicly is risky. The risks include getting the kid’s identity stolen, someone harrassing, stalking or bullying the kid, and the kid’s information showing up in Google searches.
It might also be that Anna is not too happy about this picture being on the internet in a couple of years when she starts school – let alone when she’s a teenager!
Mistakes can happen to anyone
It’s not enough to tell kids not to share personal information online. As a parent, it’s also important to make sure your own behaviour is safe. Are your Facebook privacy settings in order? Check them with the help of their guide.
Revealing something by accident is terribly easy, just like this example of Anna’s dad proves. So if your kid makes a mistake or two, don’t get mad. Instead, think together how you could prevent such mistakes in the future.