Facebook Puts All Toddlers at Risk, but It’s Not Facebook’s Fault

Nov 21, 2013

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365.004 - LouiseIt’s the usual story, I log onto Facebook and there’s another picture of my nearly 2-year-old nephew on my news feed. He’s outside his house in Oregon smiling as he enjoys a few rays of rare sunlight. The caption reads, “Getting ready to head off on our annual vacation.” I linger on the photo a bit longer, realizing that it’s a miracle I can watch my sister’s family grow up from such a distance. I give the picture a “like” and continue down my news feed.

However, I’m not the only one who can see this picture, and there’s a whole world out there looking at the same picture that I am. To me, it’s a picture of a happy family event, but someone else is seeing the photo in a completely different perspective. Looking behind my nephew, the address of the house can clearly be seen. Of course, it’s just a number and there’s no street name, but the photo was geo-tagged and the GPS coordinates give the exact location of where the picture was taken. The caption also reads, “Getting ready to head off on our annual vacation,” which means the family won’t be at the house for at least another few days. It’s also an annual vacation, so they probably won’t be there around the same time next year either. Furthermore, there are other pictures on Facebook of my nephew inside his home. I see my nephew happily playing in the living room, but someone else on Facebook is noticing the expensive flat screen on the wall, or the brand new computer on the desk, or maybe even where the car keys are kept.

All this information is gathered from just a few pictures shared on Facebook giving a burglar the perfect recipe for disaster. However, what if it wasn’t a burglar that saw these pictures? What if it was a child predator? What could be learned about your child in seconds?

Facebook itself is not the enemy, it’s a wonderful tool that can help families connect; especially ones that live long distances away like mine. The problem with Facebook comes from the false concept we have that there is no consequence to anything we upload/post online.

When sharing pictures of toddlers or young ones, caution must be taken. Most pictures that adults share on Facebook are pictures of vacations, nights out on the town, or even (Yes, you know you do it sometimes) pictures of a plate of food. Taking pictures of small toddlers is a different story however, because most pictures of toddlers and infants are usually taken at, near, or inside your home. You have to ask yourself whenever you share a picture online, if a stranger was standing where I’m standing, would I want him to see any of this?

Another threat from sharing a child’s life on Facebook is identity theft. Identity thieves know it’s much easier to get away with stealing a child’s identity than adults’ due to the fact that a child never checks their credit reports or finances regularly. When a person knows where a child lives, it’s much easier to dumpster dive and collect confidential information about them.

Remember that sharing pictures of infants and toddlers online is no crime, just be cautious with how much information you share about them. Share pictures with family through email, or other private means and do the best to protect your child’s identity in their youngest years. Through Net Nanny Social, parents can monitor the activity surrounding their child's online identity. This additional help tracks your child's comments, pictures, and friends on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, Google+, and LinkedIn to keep private matters private.