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'They can find out everything': 'Proud Parent Syndrome' could be putting kids' safety at risk.

If you’ve been on social media this past week, you’ve seen a lot of kids in their school uniforms looking various degrees of thrilled about the prospect of a new school year. Parents love sharing these images and they’ve become as ubiquitous at this time of year as people sharing photos with their mum on Mothers Day.

This week was the first day of school for many kids, and for some, it was even their child’s first ever day of school. If you were one of those parents, you were probably excited, proud and emotional, and you wanted to remember the moment.

Maybe you snapped a photo of your kids in their uniform and uploaded them to Instagram with several ‘tear’ and ‘heart’ emojis. Maybe the crest and name of their school was evident on their shirt. Maybe you even geotagged the name of the school, so it would come up clearly on the top of your post.

Friends, relatives, colleagues and acquaintances in your network would have all seen your child in their feeds, responding with their well-wishes and leaving behind a long trail of ‘likes’.

However, if your Instagram profile isn’t on private, it’s not just people you know who would have see your child posing in their uniform. Strangers too, would have had instant access to your child’s photo, with their identifying information easily visible. And as parents with the best intentions, it can be shocking to realise the potential consequences of sharing happy snaps.

How and what you post about your kids affects them. Kirra Pendergast from the Safe on Social Toolkit explains how. Post continues below.

Video by Mamamia

Child cyber safety expert Kirra Pendergast, who along with Mamamia has created the Safe on Social Toolkit – an online resource for parents who want peace of mind – explains the ramifications of what seems like a harmless decision from parents.

“It is then very easy for someone to search via the ‘places section’ in Instagram and go through and start to see a whole lot about your family,” she says in one of the videos inside the toolkit where she goes step-by-step through the process a stranger might use. This also applies to photos of your kids at other school events she says. Think formals, socials, charity events, sporting carnivals and term assemblies.

“Someone you don’t know can very quickly find out everything. From the name of your dog, to the name of your children, the school they go to, where you last went on holidays, whose birthdays are when and a whole heap of [other] personal information.”

This can become a safety risk if used by people with bad intentions. Using the ‘geotag’ search function on Instagram they can find your profile, identify your kids and “piece together a whole heap of information about your child and your family,” says Kirra. Even if they’re not following you and don’t appear among your list of followers.

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“Just by looking at photos you’ve posted of things as seemingly innocuous as your pets, holidays, social occasions, sports activities…..all of this can be pieced together by a stranger and can be used in person to convince a child that [despite being a stranger] this person actually know you and have been sent to pick them up from school,” she continues.

 

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This years motto #fearless

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The solution is actually quite simple, Kirra explains in one of the short videos in the Safe-On-Social Toolkit. Set your Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and any other social media account to private.

As an added measure, she shows you how to switch off the ‘location services’ for your photos. This way the data won’t be made available for your social media apps to read in the first place.

“Think about whether you want your account set to public for the whole world to see every aspect your family are doing online. Or whether you would rather keep it to private so only the people you let in… can actually see what is going on,” says Kirra.

“Of course it’s completely fine [to post photos of your children in school uniform if you’re on private]. Just really reconsider that if your account is set to public, or if it’s a business account and you’re mashing in photos of your children in that business account.”

Essentially, the message is: don’t let being a ‘proud parent’ accidentally make your child a target.

Want to know how to keep your kids safe online and stay one step ahead of them? The Safe on Social Toolkit is a digital ‘survival kit’  full of easy-to-understand cheatsheets and short videos that show you step-by-step, everything parents need to know to keep their kids safe on social media. From Tik Tok to Sexting, Instagram, Cyberbullying, Snapchat….if kids are doing it, we’ll tell you how to make sure they’re doing it safely.  CLICK HERE to get the toolkit now for peace of mind.

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