The most essential fact to keep in mind is that on social networks, especially on Facebook, we are not only dealing with friends and acquaintances. In fact, it often happens that we interact with people that we do not know, and that may not always have good intentions.
As parents, we live our relationships with our children with intensity and great pride. This attitude also influences our use of social networks. Our Facebook pages, for example, are so often dedicated to praising the beauty, skills, and activities of our young ones, wether they be children or grandchildren.
Nevertheless, publishing every kind of information about our children--facts, videos, and pictures--can be very dangerous, since we cannot know with certainty who will be looking at them, and for what they could use them. For this reason, I suggest 10 small, common-sense rules to take into account before publishing images of our children and grandchildren on social networks:
1. Never show pictures of the places, such as parks and gardens, that your child often visits. This could offer the ill-intentioned valuable information on where to find him.
2. Avoid publishing images where your child appears close to a car with a visible license plate.
3. Good sense requires, always and in every case, avoiding giving your child’s first and last name and age. Profile information should also avoid reporting this data.
4. Never publish information related to young ones’ activities and schedules. For example: “Dance lesson today at 5 at Elegant Studios.”
5. Please avoid sentimental comments. Let me explain: if a loved one is traveling, don’t publish nostalgic thoughts such as, “We just left each other but I already miss you! Luckily we will see each other Saturday.” This is like telling the ill-intentioned: “Please come forward! I am alone until Saturday!”
6. Now that smartphones can pinpoint the location where our pictures are taken, it is advisable to disactivate this function in order to avoid giving detailed information to strange and curious people.
7. Do not ever publish pictures in which your child is wearing the logo or uniform of the school where he studies, and least of all photos where a minor is dressed in underclothes or bathing suits.
8. Ask relatives and friends not to share information about your children with others.
9. Keep firmly in mind that once information is made public, it is impossible to delete it.
10. Before publishing anything, ask yourself this question: Do I have the right, or at least, is it responsible, to publish information about my children or grandchildren without their consent? Would we like it if someone published information about our lives on the web?
Without becoming paranoid or sounding false alarms, we should reasonably take into account that, unfortunately, people with bad intentions abound on the internet. In so many cases they take advantage of our innocence and naivety. This is why we must be very diligent when we show our loved ones on the web.
At this point, I think we can add one final, eleventh rule: just as we take great care of our children in the real world, we must be just as cautious and considerate in the virtual world.