You are currently viewing Sharenting and Security: What You Need to Know

Before you share a photo of your kid’s first day at school on social media, consider the implications of sharenting and security. Here’s what you need to know. 

Sharenting and security are real issues in today’s ‘always-online’ world. Sharenting – a relatively new term to describe parents sharing the details of their children’s lives online can have potential drawbacks.

Sharing a photo of your child may be a wonderful way to keep family and friends updated, but you could be jeopardising your child’s safety and privacy.

Carey van Vlaanderen, CEO of cybersecurity company ESET Southern Africa, explains further.

“Improvements in technology and the rising popularity of social media have made it easier than ever for parents to record and share every precious milestone of their kids’ lives, from the first ultrasound scan to the first day of school,” she says.

However, she cautions, sharing photos and videos that contain personal information could seriously jeopardise your child’s safety and privacy.

Read our tips on how to be social media-savvy.

Safety first

It is only natural that we want to share the happy and proud moments of our lives with those we love and connect with daily. “But the online world is filled with people we don’t know and a a first-day-of-school photo contains quite a lot of personal information, including your child’s school, their age, and sometimes even their teacher’s name,” notes van Vlaanderen.

Sharenting and security must always be regarded as one inseparable issue. So before posting photos and videos, consider the nature of the content you’re sharing and double-check your privacy settings.  “A good rule of thumb is if there is the slightest doubt in your mind about a photo, it’s probably better not to post it. Another is to try and imagine how you’d feel if what you’re posting about your child were about you instead,” van Vlaanderen advises.

Once shared it’s no longer exclusively yours

“One of the biggest considerations when deciding on what to share online is that once you post a picture on social media platforms, that image is no longer exclusively yours,” explains van Vlaanderen. “That’s because the platform’s Ts and Cs often state that once an image is uploaded onto their server, they are free to use it without consent. While you retain the copyright to the image, the platform whose servers host the image owns the license. “In other words, the social platform is allowed to use your picture in any way they see fit. In addition, social platforms are not responsible for stripping your images of metadata. This data may include your location, the type of device used to take the photo and so on.” 

Long-term risks

Before posting, parents must think now about the long-term risks of sharenting and security.

Identity theft

BBC report estimates that, by 2030, sharenting could lead to identity fraud. That, in turn,  could cost billions in damages annually. Sharing online can lead to information being misused to hack passwords or for identity fraud scams.

Inherited online image and unhealthy digital habits

“Posting about your child’s life may reinforce unhealthy digital habits by creating a perception that sharing information online, in whatever context, is safe and harmless.

Every picture and update posted also contributes to the construction of an online image that your child will inherit. This could make them self-conscious about what other people think of them. Alternatively, it could influence them to value online validation over real-world experiences and connections,” says van Vlaanderen.

“We all want our kids to grow up to use social media and online spaces safely and responsibly. So we need to be smarter about what we share and how we share it,” she concludes.