I was browsing Facebook the other day and noticed that a local news station was asking parents to post back-to-school photos to celebrate their child's first day of school. "Make sure to include their name, grade and school!" the post reads, and parents began dutifully posting photos of their kids on their first day of school. Many of which included the requested details.
Now, there is already a little controversy about posting your child's first day of school photo on social media period, especially if the photo depicts her at or near her actual school—even if you think your account is locked down and out of sight of prying eyes. So the idea of posting your child's photo on a public Facebook page, potentially with her actual location, is pretty mind-boggling.
Modern schools are now way more secure than they were when I was a child, but that security can unfortunately be breached, and it extends beyond the school's property or transportation to and from school, especially considering that many children walk to and from school.
A friend of mine said that it was like a catalog for a pedophile, and I agree with her. It's likely that no harm will come to these children, of course, but why would you risk the chance? Stranger abductions are pretty rare, but you never want to increase their chances of being swept away from you by a sicko with Internet access.
We're parents in a brand new age—the age of instant access, the age of sharing (and oversharing) and the age of kids growing up online.
And no, I'm not trying to hype up stranger danger and kidnappings. I don't think that scaring the hell out of parents is the right thing to do, either, and fear-mongering isn't something that I want to be a part of.
Pointing out something that may not be a great choice is more of an attempt to raise awareness about social media, its lack of privacy, and what we can and should do to keep our kids safer, than it is to scare the crap out of parents who just want to share their child's first day.
We're parents in a brand new age—the age of instant access, the age of sharing (and oversharing) and the age of kids growing up online. There has to be consideration from the parents about a child's safety and privacy, and as social media continues to expand, our collective realization that what we post is permanent (even if we delete it) and has the potential to be seen by everyone (even if we think it's private) doesn't seem to be catching on.
I get that moms and dads love to show off their kids, especially on huge milestone days like the first day of school. But there simply isn't a good enough reason to broadcast a child's photo and where she actually attends school on the public Facebook page of a local news station.