It seems innocent enough. Your 3-year-old son just performed an adorable dance in his underwear in the living room so you take a short video and post to Instagram. You want to capture these precious moments because you know they are fleeting. Instinctively, we pull out our phones to take the quick pic or video. As a mom of two, I know that in the blink of an eye my little ones will no longer pose or smile for the camera when I ask. But, as the founder and CEO of Child Rescue Coalition (CRC), I know these seemingly innocent photos and videos can inadvertently put our children at risk when we share them on social media.
By the time a child turns 2, 90 percent of parents have shared something about their kids on social media. By the age of 5, the average parent posts 1,500 photos of their child — that’s almost a picture a day for their entire life.
Most of us think pictures of our kids in the bath or in the midst of potty training are simply innocent snapshots of childhood. But the sad reality is that overexposing your children on social media makes them vulnerable to predators who frequently browse common parenting and kid-related hashtags.
Unfortunately, the rise of social media makes it all too easy for pedophiles to get pictures or videos of children. And the vast majority — a sickening 85 percent — of these child predators are hands-on abusers. It’s a parent’s worst nightmare, but it’s happening every day, all over the world.
At CRC, we’re working around the clock to prevent pedophiles from getting anywhere near our children. As a nonprofit, we provide leading-edge technology to law enforcement free of charge so they can protect children by tracking, ranking, arresting and prosecuting child predators worldwide. Thanks to CRC’s tools, law enforcement has rescued more than 2,300 children from sexual exploitation and abuse and arrested more than 10,000 predators.
We’re doing our best to help law enforcement, but as parents, we also have a role to play to make sure pictures and videos don’t fall into the wrong hands. Nearly 90 percent of parents haven’t checked their privacy settings in over a year. Who knows, then, who has access to what they’re sharing (a lot of us learned this the hard way with the recent Cambridge Analytica scandal). Setting tighter privacy settings is one of the quickest and easiest ways to stop potential predators from getting pictures of your child.
Before sharing your child’s image on social media, ask yourself a few questions:
- Why am I sharing this?
- Is this something I want to be part of my child’s digital life?
- Would I want this image of my child viewed and downloaded by predators?
- Would I want someone else to share an image like this of me?
As a parent, you would never intentionally do anything to put your child in harm’s way. So, this Mother’s Day, I encourage you to pause before you post. As parents, we must do our part to protect our children from online predators.