As the first day of school approaches, parents and guardians are being warned to be extra cautious about sharing personal information about their children.
Sharing personal details on social media is something we all do, but we rarely think of the potential consequences. The reality is that with social media, anyone can be viewing your content. When you share details like where your child goes to school, what extracurriculars they do and their name, you may also unintentionally expose them to new dangers.
A post currently doing the rounds on social media is warning of this exact threat. The post warns of human traffickers using something as simple as a Facebook status update to take advantage of people.
“A guy sends you a friend request. You don’t know him, but he’s got a cute profile picture, so you accept his friend request,” reads the post. “It’s your baby girl’s first day of school. She looks SO cute in her new outfit you just have to take a picture and put it on Facebook so all your friends and family can see. You’re so excited dropping her off that you ‘Check in’ to her school on FB saying, ‘I can’t believe how big she’s gotten. Time sure flies. One proud momma/daddy right here’.”
This is a common status update anyone might share out of pride and excitement, but it can take a dark turn when the wrong person sees it.
“Meanwhile,” the post continues, “the mystery guy whose friend request you hurriedly accepted earlier this morning is saving that picture you posted of your daughter in her cute new outfit to his phone and texting it to 60 other grown men across the world with the caption – ‘Indian Female. Age 5. Brown Hair. Black Eyes. Rs. 70,000’. Not only did you provide a picture of your little girl to a child trafficker, you’ve handed him the name and exact location of her school on a silver cyber platter.”
While we can’t always protect against every danger, here are some tips to keep you and your kids safer:
– Don’t put your child’s name, number, address or any other identifying information on their schoolbags where everyone can see it
– Avoid sharing too many personal details about your children on social media
– Avoid keeping children’s pictures as your profile picture
– Teach your children to not speak to strangers
– Don’t add strangers on social media
– Set your Instagram to private or set your Facebook so that only friends can see your posts
– When taking pictures of your child, avoid capturing the emblem or colours of their school uniform