Think before posting your children’s pics

2019-01-21 16:16
Be careful of posting photos of your kids online. They have the potential of being viewed and shared by anyone.

Be careful of posting photos of your kids online. They have the potential of being viewed and shared by anyone. (Chelsea Pieterse)

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Splashing images of one’s child on social media platforms for the whole world to ogle at has become more prevalent.

So, too has bragging about children.

But what about the dangers lurking behind the innocent postings and the dirty hands they may end up in?

Clinical psychologist Rakhi Beekrum explained that the amount of information revealed about children online makes them susceptible to safety violations.

“For instance, posting a picture of your child on the first day of school with their uniform, mentioning the grade and teacher’s name, makes it easier for someone to try to earn the child’s trust or for child traffickers,” she said.

Accepting invites from strangers means they have access to information you have posted, said Beekrum.

Also, paedophiles are known to access online pictures which opens the children to the possibility of interaction with them.

Identity theft is also common.

“We have seen many examples of people pretending to be others on social media and inviting the person’s friends (which means they have access to the friends’ profiles). Pictures may be unlawfully used for advertising purposes,” she said.

Of children being reprimanded on Facebook, Beekrum said that while discipline is important, punishing them through public humiliation is embarrassing and can cause them emotional trauma.

“They may see themselves as ‘bad children’ and may become withdrawn due to embarrassment. There is also the possibility of them rebelling further,” said Beekrum.

It is an ineffective disciplinary method. “Parents either do not realise the emotional consequences for the child or are frustrated due to a lack of effective parenting skills,” she said.

Social media expert, Dr Sandra Pitcher of the University of KwaZulu-Natal, said there are possibilities that the posting of pictures and videos online can be used or shared by anyone.

The answer to whether or not these pictures can be accessed by anyone is both yes and no, said Pitcher.

She explained that if the privacy settings are in place, they will not be immediately available to anyone.

“But, just because you have strict privacy settings on your social media accounts does not mean that you are protected from unwanted views. There is nothing stopping another person (who follows or friends you) from downloading images and sharing them …

“And while some might argue that this is a breach of privacy, most social media accounts have no terms of use that forbids this type of behaviour,” Pitcher said.

All images and videos posted have the potential to be viewed and then shared by anyone.

Any image can be used for anything from marketing purposes to more nefarious activities. Unfortunately, there have always been bad people in the world, she said.

Pitcher said that social media platforms are becoming stricter about removing images that could be construed as pornographic or dangerous, as well as reporting individuals to authorities about accounts that are considered dangerous. Facebook also blocks any convicted sex offender from having an account.

“But parents also need to be responsible, and think before posting online. It’s prudent that they don’t post about their child’s routines and locations,” she said.

Boasting puts pressure on kids

Parents seem to be boasting about all sorts of things about their children on social media.

These include excelling in sport, getting good marks in exams, what they bought them and them looking adorable in a new outfit.

Clinical psychologist Rakhi Beekrum said excessive bragging can put pressure on children as they are now under more pressure to “keep it up” and may fear disappointing their parents if they do not continue to excel.

She also said that it can be an indication of the parent’s need for approval and validation from others.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  safety  |  child
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