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THE I.T CROWD: Protect your children when 'sharenting'

Being in lockdown once again means that people are using social media more than ever to stay in touch with friends and family. A prime example is the sharing of photos of the children with those, for example grandparents, who are unable to see them. Or maybe they are just simply (and justifiably) proud of what their children have been doing whilst stuck at home. “Sharenting” is the term (which has now been added to the Collins English Dictionary) for parents who use social media to share personal information about their children.

With this in mind, there are some actions you should consider taking to protect your children when sharing images and information about them online.

Ensure that all your friends who will see your photos are actual friends. If not, consider sharing with a select group of people.

Be careful when sharing information about your children.
Be careful when sharing information about your children.

Check the picture before you post it to make sure it doesn’t reveal any personal details like your road or house number.

Think about your child’s digital footprint. It’s important to consider that, in the future, your children may not be happy about having had their lives publicly documented. As they get older, ask their permission before posting.

If you wish to post a picture which features their friends, make sure you ask the other parents before posting.

Control who can see your photos by applying the right privacy settings. For an extra level of privacy, consider setting up a private social network group for friends and family.

Philip Brooks.
Philip Brooks.

But the dangers of sharing personal information about your children don’t stop there. Barclays Bank has recently warned that sharenting is the “weakest link” when it comes to online fraud and identity theft. According to their security specialists, the use of social media by parents to share information about their children means that identity fraud has “never been easier”. What is happening is that children are becoming potential “fraud targets” due to the amount of personal information being published about them. It is possible for on-line fraudsters to hack passwords or create identity fraud scams using names, ages and dates of births (from birthday messages), home addresses, place of birth, mother’s maiden name, schools, the names of pets etc that are posted onto social media sites.

It is important to remember that digital footprints will never disappear from the online world and any details you post about your children will still be available when they are adults and not only could be used for fraudulent loans or credit card transactions or online shopping scams, but could also cause your children harm.

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