Parents Warned: Think Twice Before Posting That Baby Pic Online 5 years ago

Parents Warned: Think Twice Before Posting That Baby Pic Online

Research has shown that 92 percent of two-year-olds in the United States have an online presence, and about one-third make their first appearance on social media sites within their first 24 hours of life.

Now parents have been urged to be more mindful of the images of their children they share online, with experts warning that digital footprints created for children, often beginning in infancy, follow them into adulthood.

The information parents share with others about their children presents new and often unanticipated risks, according to new research presented at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) 2016 National Conference & Exhibition in San Francisco today.

Study author, law professor Stacey Steinberg, JD, cautions that information shared can be stolen or repeatedly re-shared, unbeknownst to parents, potentially ending up the in hands of pedophiles or identify thieves.

"Even more likely, the child might one day want to have some privacy and control over his or her digital identity," Steinberg said, noting that the first "children of social media" are just now entering adulthood, college, and the job market.

"Untangling the parent's right to share his or her own story and the child's right to enter adulthood free to create his or her own digital footprint is a daunting task."

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"The amount of information placed in the digital universe about our children in just a few short years is staggering," added co-author Dr. Barhareh Keith, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Florida College of Medicine.

"Parents often consider how to best protect children while the child is using the internet. However, parents--including myself, initially--don't always consider how their own use of social media may affect their children's well-being."

The researchers advised paediatricians to encourage responsible and thoughtful sharing. Parent are also advised to familiarise themselves with the privacy policies of the sites they use, to post anonymously if they choose to share about their children's behavioural struggles, and to give their child "veto power" over online disclosures, including images, quotes, accomplishments, and challenges.

They also advise never to share pictures that show their children in any state of undress or share their child's actual location in a post.