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The internet has become so ingrained in our culture that it can be hard to remember a time when we didn’t have Google or social media. For some babies and small children, the internet has been around since the day they were born — but just because they can use it and be seen on it, that doesn't mean that they need to.
Today we will talk about some precautions that mommy bloggers and general social media users can try to protect their baby’s digital privacy and how to avoid the potential threats that can come along the way.
Keep Your Baby Offline
Keeping your baby or young child off of social media is serious business because their privacy can be put at risk if you are not careful. In addition to the opportunity to see harmful words and images, entering the wrong website can lead to information being collected by various nefarious entities. The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act was created as an answer to this pressing issue. It requires websites that are directed to kids under age 13 to notify parents before they can collect your child’s information.
However, while protections like this exist, you need to enforce your own rules. The easiest way to protect your young child is to keep them off of the internet and social media entirely until they are ready for the responsibility. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children avoid the use of social media and video chatting until they are 18 months old. That is because this is one of the most important parts of your young child’s development, and interactions with the parents, either by playing or reading a bedtime story, are better for cognitive learning than screen time for babies.
Keeping your child off of social media may mean that you will have to do the same, but many new parents make this mistake. Proper planning around your new baby is key. Consider waiting to go online until your children are sleeping. Further, think twice about posting photos from the moment your child is born.
Use Caution on Social Media
Even if you think it is safe to go online when your child is around, you should still consider limiting their screen time. You’ll need to trust your gut and determine when you have been surfing the net with them long enough. As it is, experts recommend that adults spend less than two hours on the phone, so your child should definitely use it less.
If you are a family blogger and you use your child as a model in pictures, then be careful to keep their privacy in mind. Since your baby may not be able to give their consent, don’t share photos that they may be embarrassed about when they get older. Also, if you allow people to tag your photos, then you automatically extend your audience. There may be some people that you may not want in the loop. It may be unsafe to let certain characters know simple information like what your baby looks like, how they act, what they prefer, or even their daily routines. Consider changing the privacy settings on your posts, at least, so strangers cannot view, comment, tag, or otherwise modify your photos.
You also need to determine if you really need to be showing your baby’s face in the first place. Is showing their face vital to the success of your blog or social media presence? If not, then you can still show your kids with some creative photography. That might include making the pictures slightly out of focus, snapping pics of the kids from behind when they are walking down a sidewalk, or focusing on your kid’s legs or feet when they are at the beach. That way, your photo can prove a point without making your baby front and center.
Secure Your Devices
Finally, while bloggers can do everything possible to protect their baby’s privacy, an insecure system can allow hackers and cybercriminals to sneak in the back door and steal that information from under your feet. Make sure that you log into every app and website with a smart password that includes a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters. Change these passwords every few months.
It is also a wise idea to install a virtual private network (VPN) that will disguise your location and automatically encrypt all incoming and outgoing information so it cannot be read even if it is stolen. Pair your VPN with a good antivirus program and run scans several times per week so you can catch a potential virus before it causes additional harm.
Sometimes, it is easier to let an expert handle cybersecurity. You can rely on cloud-based software services that vet their third-party cybersecurity partners. This way, you can store your child’s photos, videos, and other important documents in the cloud with extra backup protection. Cloud computing securityadds a layer of protection, often with in-house security teams, while still allowing you to access your data from anywhere.Their teams are typically up to date on all common threats so they can watch your data on your behalf, and you and your family can stay safe.
As you can see, there are many steps that you can take to protect your baby’s privacy. Keep a close eye on them or have them avoid the web altogether, and they may grow up happier and healthier.