"How to Safely Share Photos of Your Kids Online"When a baby is born, parents want to immediately share their joy with friends and family. In the 21st century that means sending out mass emails with baby’s name and birth date, posting pictures on Facebook from the hospital room and putting up videos on YouTube others may not really want to see. But that initial joy can turn to panic when parents realize how many people now have access to information about their child.

Public videos, pictures and location check-ins are full of information strangers can easily access and use to come up with a malicious plan against your child. Keeping important information private is crucial to protecting your family and your child’s identity.

Potential Risks and Protections

There are significant safety risks to consider when posting information about your children online. Once pictures are posted, they move out of your control and can be downloaded and shared again by anyone with access. You don’t know who may end up with your child’s picture saved on their hard drive. It can also lead to the misuse of your images in advertising and other public materials like the Missouri family who ended up in a storefront advertisement across the globe.

To control access to your content, check security settings on all social accounts. Make sure you know who has access to your photos and videos and that they’re within your trusted circle. Be careful when sharing photos in contests or other people’s pages. Consider setting up a password-protected site where you upload photographs of your children so you can still share freely with family and friends without worrying about security risks. Another option to consider is creating a personal digital watermark on your photos that will make sharing and misuse less likely.

In addition to the security risks, remember that you’re leaving a digital trail of your child’s life they’ll most likely still have access to when they’re older. What seems cute now may not be so cute in 10 years. It’s also unlikely that your friends appreciate these stories anyway. Remember social media should have the same etiquette and sharing rules as a personal gathering where some topics are off limits.

Help Your Child Prepare for the Future

It’s also important to set a good example for when your children are old enough to set up their own social media accounts. Make sure teenagers understand their privacy settings. Discuss the benefits of having a private account and make sure they’re not disclosing their full name or personal information. Make sure you follow their accounts and keep track of who is following them. They don’t have to be famous for the wrong picture or status update to go viral.

Once they’re old enough to open bank accounts and apply for credit cards, make sure they understand the importance of protecting their reputations and protecting their personal information from identity theft. LifeLock offers many videos on its YouTube channel that can help you better explain and explore the topic. In the digital age, children are growing up with less privacy than ever before. Parents need to take their children’s online presence and identity protection as seriously as they take their own. Being careful about personal photographs and stories will help protect your children now and protect their reputations as they grow older.