Every time it’s back-to-school season, it means that there’s a whole new set of photos being taken. Of course, it’s a rite of passage to take a photo of our child on every first day of school so we can document how much they’re growing, it’s all part of the fun. Nowadays, it’s become quite popular to add a back-to-school sign that says which year it is and what your kid’s interests are, that way you can see how much they’ve changed from year to year. So what could be the issue with this adorable sign?
Well, there’s nothing inherently wrong with the actual sign, but once you start posting it on social media, that’s when the danger comes in. Since you’re providing a lot of information about your child on those signs, that means that predators will have access to that information.
Think about those straggler Facebook friends, the ones you don’t really know but somehow became friends with, or people you haven’t seen since high school. Now they have a lot of information about your child: what school they attend, what their interests are, how old they are, who their teacher is, and where they will be during the school day. If they’re looking at the photo on the day you posted it, they’ll even know what your child will be wearing.
The predator could look up the school and figure out what the start and end time of the school day are, which can be a two-fold problem. First, they’ll know when and where to find your child while at school. Second, they’ll also know when you’re not at home, which could make you a target for a break-in.
Anything you’ve posted about your child before can also help, for example when secretaries or desk clerks ask identifying questions to verify if a person is actually connected to your child. That’s why posting about their birthdays is especially risky.
Scott Argio, an assistant special agent leading the FBI’s Pittsburgh office, shared with Pittsburgh’s Action News 4:
“Child predators online are looking to build profiles for people to build relationships, and they can use that information at a later date to form a trusting relationship. The main thing about posting things on social media is, you’re posting it for the world to see.”
That doesn’t meant that you can’t ever post anything about your child. However, there are ways you can be more careful while doing it. For example, blur out any important information pertaining to your child. You can also make sure that there are no location references like house numbers, school logos, uniforms, and such vin the background of any photos.
You can take a second photo without the sign in order to post that one online. Also consider who you’re sharing these photos with. Perhaps adjust your photo sharing privacy settings. Lastly, you can set up a family password that only you and your child know so that if someone approaches them who doesn’t know the password, your child will know not to trust them.