If you were to open your social media right now, it probably wouldn’t take too long for you to stumble upon a photo of a friend’s newborn son or 2-year-old daughter. The daily bombing of baby pictures on social media has become expected of parents, but are we overlooking a major threat?
Parents have always been taught to monitor their child’s internet use– but are they overlooking the children on social media unwillingly? As it turns out, this is where the danger of online predators comes in.
Most parents don’t think twice about the photos they post of their child. But it’s the innocent photos that fuel the creeps.
An Australian website, back in 2016, made global news when it was found that pictures of girls from local schools were being sent back and forth between users. From there it would only get worse. After these predators found a “favorite”, they would begin to pay money for people to find more pictures.
With the technology that is readily available to anyone with a computer these days, police say it is too often impossible to locate the parents of a child whose photo had been used. Because of this, most of the time the girl who had a picture sent to these sites has no idea. With the knowledge to hide IP addresses, and ultimately hide their entire identity, these pedophiles are getting more and more difficult to weed out.
What is a parent to do? Never take another photo of your child? Hide your baby in a closet for the next few years?
Of course, these are not real solutions, but solutions are out there. Erin Cash worked as a detective in pedophile and child abuse task forces for 12 years on the Queensland Police Force. In an attempt to help all parents avoid these dangers, Erin took quite a long time to complete and perfect a post outlining ways to protect kids.
Cash shared, “It has taken over a decade for me to write this post because I know that I will have re-visted images and situations from my career that haunt me,” wrote Erin.
To start, privacy should be your main concern as a parent. If a person does not know you in real life, why should they need to know what your family looks like? The simple answer is, they shouldn’t. Update your privacy settings to be sure you know exactly who is seeing your perfect little angel.
Second, and this is where it starts to get terrifying, be mindful of the kinds of pictures you post of your kids. Pedophiles will take anything they can get their hands on and, with the help of Photoshop, turn that innocent picture at the beach into something much worse. This goes for other kinds of photos as well. The general idea is, if you wouldn’t post the same picture of yourself, then do not post it.
One of Erin’s main concerns in her post is that parents are oblivious to the kinds of sick things these predators do. Because they have no idea, they do not know how to be cautious. So, Erin made a short list of three things to consider before posting a picture of your child.
“Things to consider when posting photos of your children:
• Is there enough room to ‘superimpose’ another figure into the image?
• Are they in a state of undress (even with emoticons placed modestly—these can be removed and body parts can be photo shopped in).
• Do you have a public social media page? Pedophiles can develop ‘child crushes’ and the child does not have to be posed or in a state of undress for the photo to become a commodity.”
The world population is growing faster every year, and yet the world seems to still be getting smaller. There were less people in the world 200 years ago than are on Facebook today. Because of this extreme connectivity to one another, it is important to know how to be as safe as you can be on the internet.
Take the time to consider what you are posting and who is going to see it, for the sake of you and your child. Share these tips with other parents and be mindful of everything you post!