The first day of the new school year has arrived and Facebook is once again filled with images of friends’ children looking all grown up in their new, crisp, school uniform. I love scrolling through, ‘liking’ them all as I pass by. But it always amazes me just how much information people are giving away about their children. Not just on ‘Back To School day, but every day! Frankly, it’s scary!
Now, I’m no angel. I post way too much information on my personal Facebook profile. But the last few months, I’ve been trying to post less, taking more care in the things that I do post & slowly trying to de-clutter my old posts, deleting irrelevant or ‘junk’ posts. Read on for a few tips of mine on how to safeguard your children…
1. Check your privacy settings if you want your pictures to be viewed by friends only. Facebook is your safest bet, so to speak; it offers the biggest range of privacy settings, allowing you to choose your audience & even place people into groups, specifying what they can or can’t see. Twitter & Instagram, not so secure, it’s either completely private or open to anyone to view.
2. Think about doing regular Facebook Friend culls. I do it every 6 months or so. I live & work in a small town where everyone knows the name of their mothers’ brother-in-laws’ best friends’ work mates’ pet hamster, so it’s pretty hard to delete people I know without causing offence. I try to be as ruthless as I can. If I haven’t seen you in more than a year (close friends & family omitted), haven’t interacted with you online in over a year or we don’t say hi in the street, then you’re gone. Facebook, in my opinion, is a lot more personal than other social network sites, so there’s no need to share details with anyone who isn’t part of my usual life.
3. Make use of Facebook’s ‘On This Day’ feature. My Facebook account is 9 years old. That’s 9 years worth of online data. Most of it is, excuse my language, pure crap. Statuses about the X Factor winner of 5 years ago, what I ate for lunch 7 years ago, you name it, it’s there. Not to mention all the dodgy photos I thought were cool back in the day! I try to take a few minutes out of my daily routine to utilise this feature and delete old posts that no longer serve a purpose. It’s also handy for removing anything that may compromise my daughter Cici in the future or cause her embarrassment.
4. Sounds like common sense, but I’ve seen so many people do this… Never post your child’s personal details online, which may cause potential harm or even their identity to be stolen. This includes, but not limited to, full names, dates of birth and addresses.
5. Here’s where those ‘Back To School’ posts come in… Never disclose your childs school! You may know & trust all of your Social Media friends, but once they click ‘like’ or comment on your photo, you don’t know who on their friends list is also seeing it. Although my personal Facebook profile is completely private, my mum often tags herself in my daughters photos or shares them and I often have to message her asking “Who’s this person that’s just liked/commented on my photo?” Blur out their school jumper badge too, so as not to broadcast where they attend school.
6. If you snap a pic with another child in the background, get their parents permission before posting online. If this isn’t possible, blur them out. My favourite photography app for ‘blurring’ is Facetune (iOS), but I’m sure there are plenty of apps to choose from, so no excuses… This goes for any photos, not just school ones.
7. When posting about your child, make sure you turn off your GPS location settings, otherwise their location will be available for anyone to view online.
When it comes to safeguarding our children, we should be doing everything we possibly can to ensure this. It’s easy to get caught up in the pride and excitement of your child’s first day at school, but it shouldn’t be in spite of their safety. I’m still learning this myself and I’m working daily on the above steps, but I will get there.
In the meantime, I think I’m gonna go and have a Facebook cull while I have 10 minutes to spare… Do you have any other good tips that I haven’t thought about? If so, pop them in the comments below 💕