If you’re like me, you have social media accounts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and maybe even more. Since having kids, one thing I’ve been aware of is what and how I’m sharing on social media. I want to be sure I am keeping me and my family safe on the internet and social media.
In the world of sharing fun photos of our family, home, and even food, I’ve had to ask myself how much is too much. What are some good guidelines I can follow to keep myself and my family safe from online predators?
Some mamas go to the extent of never posting photos of their kid’s faces on any social media channel. Some don’t mention their names or give their family members pseudo names.
I will say, I don’t go that far. I share all my kid’s squishy faced smiles as well as their first names on all of my social media channels. And we also all know the person who completely overshares on social media. Whatever your preference is, find what works for you and your family.
Tips for Family Safety Online
Here are some things I either do or have heard of others doing. My husband is in Information Technology, specifically security, so he cringes at how much I share about our lives online. I also picked his brain for some safety tips.
- Only post first names of kids on social media
- Avoid sharing your address or even your house number on social media
- Avoid sharing photos of the outside of your house (I have posted a photo of our home on Instagram before but after, I heard of a blogger who had some stranger show up at their home!)
- Post pictures of kids where they can’t be easily cropped and used for other purposes. (I don’t do this one, but I do keep in mind that my kiddos are completely covered when I post pictures, etc) Which leads me to…
- Avoid posting nude photos (yes, even that cute baby booty!)
- Avoid posting photos in the bathtub (even with all the necessary parts covered up, individuals can still use it for other reasons)
- Avoid sharing your location when you’re actually there. If you’d like to share it, do it once you’re home (IE- We went to the zoo today!)
- Avoid sharing where your kids go to school
- Avoid sharing when you’re leaving for vacation
- If you have a babysitter, talk to them about your expectations of social media. Avoid telling others when there is a babysitter home alone with your kids and make sure the babysitter (especially if it’s a teen) does not let others know they’re babysitting in your home, alone) and ask them not to post your child’s photo on social media if you prefer.
- As my oldest has gotten older, I always ask her permission before posting a photo or story about her. This is a great transition for when she gets older too and can begin to decide what is appropriate to post and what isn’t.
- Public vs. private profile- You can choose to set your profile to public or private. On Facebook, my profile is closed, and I don’t accept anyone I don’t know. On Instagram- my profile is public but EVERY single person who “Follows” me, I get a notification for. I will typically scan their profile. If it seems fishy, I will block that user. Some indications that the profile is strange is their number of followers vs. following (if they are following over 20K users but only have 1 or 2 followers). Several blocked users on my list are of “men” whose profiles have little to no followers, are blocked profiles, or have inappropriate photos on their own feed. I immediately block those users. Obviously, anyone can get past my quick scan, but it’s a habit I’ve gotten into and hopefully can interfere with users who don’t have good intentions.
- Watermark your photos- when I had more time and fewer kids- I took the time to watermark my photos with my blog’s name every time I posted to my blog or social media. I put the watermark right in the middle of the photo so that it couldn’t easily be cropped out. I don’t do this anymore, but it is a good measure to deter your photos from being used by someone else. (or at least without your watermark on it)
- This is more of a general safety and respect tip- but avoid posting photos of other’s children. This one can be hard because sometimes, it’s at a school function and they’re all together. If I don’t have permission from the parents themselves to post on my personal blog or social media, I refrain. If I can’t crop the child(ren) out of the photo, I use an app to blur the faces of the other children out of the photo. A good free, basic app that I’ve found that has the “blur” feature is “Aviary.”
- Use strong passwords and change them often
- Turn off geodata on your phone- (check this on your own because sometimes default settings are set to “on.” You can find this in your phone’s settings and can manually turn off GPS) This means that even if YOU don’t tag your location, someone can still find your location or your home address
- Check social media often for changes to privacy settings and update yours as needed
Those are just a few tips I’ve picked up along the way. Whatever your preference, hopefully, these tips were either good reminders or things you can start doing.