Privacy and your child
You can help your child to stay in control of their personal information, online photos and social media identity.
What are the risks?
When your child shares information like their phone number, personal email address, the name of their school, or home address online, there is a risk it could be used in ways they may not have thought about.
Personal information gathered online can be misused and result in things like spam, scams, fraud, unwanted contact and grooming or even identity theft.
Photos of your child that are posted online or shared through social networks might end up travelling more widely than intended or they could be ‘harvested’ from social media or other websites and used for unintended purposes.
It is important that your child is aware of where and how information that identifies them is available online. They should also think about who can access it, what others may be doing with their information and the impression they are leaving for others to find.
How can I protect my child’s privacy when they are online?
Get involved and explore the online world alongside them. Sit down together and check privacy settings on social media accounts, apps and devices — ensure they have selected the highest privacy setting.
Play alongside them in online games to see what kinds of information they may be sharing. Get to know the apps and devices your child is using.
Respect their privacy
Think before sharing or tagging photos of them (see can I safely share photos of my kids online? below).
If you are concerned that a photo or video of your child has been
posted online without your permission, ask for it to be removed
As a first step, you can ask the person who posted the photo or video to remove it. If the person refuses, or you do not know who posted it or do not feel able to contact the person, you may wish to report the content to the site or social media service it was posted on.
If the photo has been posted through your child’s school or a sporting club or other group, contact the organisation directly to raise your concerns. They should be able to refer you to their social media policy, which should provide details about the type of photos that can be posted, the way they will be used and how they obtain consent from parents or carers.
Can I safely share photos of my kids online?
Involve your child
You do not legally have to ask your children for their consent, but involving them in decisions about what to post or share will give you the opportunity to demonstrate good practice. See involve your kids in decisions to share their photos below.
Think before you share
- Avoid sharing photos and videos that contain personal details, such as full names, personal contact information, or uniforms that identify particular schools or locations.
- Avoid adding comments to photos that identify locations, for example street addresses, the name of your child’s school, or even identifying features in front of your home.
- Ensure schedules of children’s activities are not shared online.
- Only share with people you really know and trust. Rather than posting to all of your friends on social media, you can be selective and use the privacy settings on your social media platform. Also, be aware that if one of your friends likes your picture, it may also become visible to their friends.
- Always check with other parents before posting, sharing or tagging images that include their children.
- Remember that the information and photos you share contribute to your child’s digital reputation.
Be mindful of metadata and geo-location
- Most digital photos contain information about the time, date and GPS coordinates of where the photo was taken. Some social media platforms automatically hide or remove this data, so double-check and find out how much information you are sharing.
- Check the location settings on your device to know which apps are using geo-location and turn them off or limit the function
Understand that photos and videos posted on social media sites may become the property of the site owners
Some social media sites give themselves the rights to copy and use your photos and videos. Their Terms and Conditions or a Statement of Rights and Responsibilities should outline how they manage sharing your photos, videos and information. Review these terms carefully before making any decisions on whether you consent to photos of your child being posted.
Check before you take photos or videos of your child at school or club events, or in places where there are other people involved
At school or club events, the organisation should be able to provide details of their social media policy or photography/recording policy.
In public places it’s generally okay to take a photo unless you do so in a way that is offensive or creates a nuisance for those around you.
When an event takes place at a private place people can enforce rules about photography, so you should consider gaining consent before taking photos and videos.
Consider ways to share photos and videos other than social media
Other ways that may give you more control when sharing photos and videos include:
- sharing photos by email
- using a secure online service (secure online facility enabling organisations to authorise access through secure passwords)
- multimedia messaging service (a standard way to send messages that include photos and videos over a cellular network)
This material has been adapted with permission from the Australian Government eSafety Commissioner. Permission to adapt content does not constitute endorsement of material by the eSafety Commissioner.