We live in the digital age and many of our close family members and friends live far from us, in countries around the world. Even if they live close-by, caught up in the business that daily life brings (especially with kids), interaction and communication can be infrequent. While many of us might be aware of some facts on internet safety, we sometimes turn a blind eye to them.
Given this, various social media channels such as Facebook and Instagram have rapidly become the ideal platforms for parents to share pictures of their children with loved ones, who might not get to see them often otherwise.
As convenient as these platforms are for sharing cute photos of our kids, many (and ideally it should be ‘all’) parents are well aware of the risks of using social media for this purpose.
Facts on Internet Safety: Sharing Pictures of Kids Online
One of the biggest threats involved in sharing pictures of our kids online is their potential exposure to predators. The scary thing is that these predators are becoming increasingly savvy in relation to what they do – there are even websites that teach such criminals how to cover their tracks.
But if you, as a parent, know what predators are looking for in a child’s photo in order to use it for their own perverted purposes, you can help keep your kid safe even if you continue to share such pictures online.
Facts on internet safety: a predator has a twisted mind and they can see the convoluted where there is only innocence. | Photo: File photo
Let’s get savvy ourselves, mums and dads! Here’s what prowling predators are more often than not looking for online:
Click, post, click, post – taking pictures with a smartphone is such an easy way to share photos of your little ones.
But according to sources, “metadata automatically embedded in photos taken with smartphones and some digital cameras can be accessed by site users when posted o sites such as Facebook. The metadata records photo time and date, as well as location, using geographical coordination.”
What this means is that a simple snap of your kid can reveal a heap of hidden information to a predator, as can a simple post stating your location.
2. Obvious attractions
Naked or semi-naked babies are just so cute. There’s something about a dimpled bum-bum or thunder thighs on a baby that makes most of us just melt.
And so, unsuspecting parents, proud of their baby’s rolls of cuteness post that one picture of him, naked or in just a diaper, with a caption like “check out these Michelin rolls!” It just takes one share by someone for this picture to land in the hands of someone who also likes it, but for completely perverted reasons.
Mums and dads, even if you cover your baby’s private parts in the photo with a strategically placed smiley face, a predator can easily photoshop it out, and photoshop in genitals, to make the image more ‘appealing’ to like-minded sick individuals or for their own fiendish pleasure.
The same goes for those pictures of older kids in swimsuits.
3. Not so obvious attractions
A predator has a twisted mind and they can see the convoluted where there is only innocence. When you post that picture of your little girl all dressed up and looking slightly older than she really is, a pervert can manipulate it to look like she is taking part in a sexual act.
A pervert can also superimpose a sexually aroused adult on this image really easily. They can even just turn it into a lewd meme by adding crude text.
Sometimes, the child doesn’t not even have to be dressed up for a pervert to develop a ‘crush’ – and access by a pervert to such a photo as this boils down to your privacy settings.
Facts on Internet Safety: How to Beat Predators at Their Game
Knowledge is empowering and by knowing how to beat predators at their own game empowers you, as parent.
Keep these tips in mind:
Disable smartphone geotagging when clicking those pics
Remember, it’s probably not the pervert from halfway across the world who wants to know where you are and where your child is. It’s more likely to be someone local or even known. As it is with many child sexual abuse cases, the perpetrator is often not a stranger, but a known person or even close acquaintance.
No naked pictures of kids…
Even semi-naked pics, for that matter, shouldn’t be posted on social media. If you must share your baby’s cute rolls of baby fat with your loved one, email the photos or send them across via a personal message.
Be aware of your child’s pose and the space within a photo
A fun mummy-daughter ‘duck-face’ moment might be seen as lewd and suggestive by a pervert. A picture of your little girl posing away with mummy’s necklaces and makeup on that has space next to the child, can be altered to have a sexually aroused person superimposed in that space.
Be smarter than your smartphone. | Photo: File photo
Your privacy settings should never be public
Make sure your settings aren’t public on any post or picture related to your child and/or family. Remember to check that such images or posts are only accessible to ‘friends’ and not ‘friends of friends’ either. And while you are notified by most social media platforms when someone ‘shares’ one of your posts or images, this is not the case with screenshots, so you won’t even know if someone takes one and shares it. This is yet another reason to double-check your privacy settings today.
Parents, this article is not meant to make you paranoid or stop sharing those beautiful and innocent images of your kids. Its purpose instead is to impart knowledge and information that will hopefully raise awareness about the very real dangers of online predators, and how you can stay one step ahead of them.
*The information in this article is adapted from sweatdepot.blogspot, the author of which is an MMA instructor and used to work in a taskforce that busted paedophile rings.
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