Thanks to technological advances, many of us now have cameras in our pockets for most of the day.
It’s second nature to grab your smartphone and start shooting when you’re having a good time.
If you’re a parent, there’s a good chance your phone is filled with photos of your kids at the park, on a family day out and goofing around at home.
It's only natural to want to create keepsakes and memories that last, and that’s why we take so many photos of our kids.
These days, we don’t just take photos, but we share them too.
Social media has become an intrinsic part of modern life. The average user spends over an hour and a half a day on social media sites. For most users, social media is about sharing. You might share a news article you found interesting, some good news in a status update and photos of your family.
Sharing photos of our children online is something many parents do without thinking. It's become so normal and accepted that it’s not often questioned. However, Australia’s new Children’s eSafety Commissioner, Alastair MacGibbon, is hoping to change that.
MacGibbon claims as much as half of the material found on child exploitation sites is stolen from social media sites and blogs. MacGibbon believes these images have been uploaded to social media by parents who are simply unaware of how easy to is for the images to be stolen and used inappropriately. The images are not themselves sexually explicit, but may be made so via comments from site users.
Investigators looking into claims online have found tens of millions of images of children doing everyday activities. The images were often categorised in folders with names such as “gymnasts”, “kids at beach” and “my daughter’s Instagram friends”.
Keeping Your Photos Safe Online
MacGibbon hopes that by drawing attention to this disturbing trend, it will encourage parents to take extra precautions online. While there’s no way of making sure your photographs are 100% safe, there are steps you can take to greatly reduce the risk of them being stolen, such as:
#1: Limiting What You Share
The more photos you share online, the more potential targets for digital thieves. Think carefully about what you want to share. While sharing nothing may not be an option, you should be able to take steps to reduce the amount you share or set high privacy settings.
#2: Checking Your Privacy Settings
Make sure your social media profiles are set to private. This means you will have full control of who can log on and see your images. Go through your friend list and make sure you know and trust everybody there. Get rid of anyone you’re not sure about. For extra security, you can set up an approved list of friends and family members to see your photos. Any Facebook contacts not on that list will be unable to see the images you share.
#3: Take Charge Of It
It’s all very well you having excellent security settings, but if grandma is sharing pictures of your kids, ask her to be as diligent as you. You may want to request that other people not share photos of your kids online. If people seem offended by this, calmly explain why you are taking this precaution. Most people are unaware that half of all images found on paedophile sharing sites are stolen from social media.
Hearing about stolen photos can be extremely unsettling, but many of us will continue to share photos to stay connected with friends and family. Following recommendations for privacy settings and being careful about what you share may reduce the risk of your photos being inappropriately used.