*Warning: This gets pretty scary. The goal of this blog is to inform and educate – not judge and set parents on a guilt trip if you are currently doing or have done any of the following things in the past. As the saying goes; if you know better, you do better.
As parents we are constantly worried about our children and technology – especially when it comes to the internet and social media. But who would’ve thought that it was really the parents we needed to worry about?
We showcase and share our lives with people on social media, so it’s no surprise that our kids feature in our posts. But there’s a lot of reasons why this is a bad idea.
A few general rules when it comes to posting about your children are:
- Don’t post & check-in
As soon as you location tag a post everyone knows where you and your kids are and when you are there.
- Don’t post any photos of your children in their school uniforms
This is not always something that happens on purpose like taking a photo of Johnny on his first day of school, but sometimes happens absentmindedly like taking a photo of your child playing an important rugby match or a photo at the restaurant you took them for lunch directly after school.
Whilst these general guidelines are good advice I STRONGLY urge parents not to post ANY photos of their children WHATSOEVER. I always tell people that it’s your prerogative to showcase your life and your relationship on social media, but as far as the online world goes; you have NO children (even if you have six) and this is why…
How many of your Facebook and Instagram “friends” do you really know?
Is your social media account settings on private or public?
The way we think of child trafficking is completely wrong. This could be because of how we were raised (don’t talk to strangers, don’t take sweets through the school fence etc.) When we think of trafficking we have this picture of an opportunistic kidnapper wandering around the mall or waiting outside school gates for that one child that’s not vigilant enough and grab them.
This could not be farther from the truth. Child trafficking works more like a strategic hijacking operation. It’s only the small fry thieves that walk around the mall and steal the car that’s unlocked. The big fish already has a buyer for a very specific vehicle before they go out and take it. The same rule applies when it comes to trafficking (and this is the part where it gets VERY scary).
Think about opening up Internet Explorer or Chrome or whatever browser you are using, staring at your Google or Firefox search engine and typing in a search query. Once you’ve done that a list of websites relevant to your search pops up. Now think of the screen you are looking at as a sheet of paper with another sheet of paper behind it.
The second sheet of paper is what we refer to as the dark web (and with good reason). The dark web just has different search engines and different websites than ours. If you are not connected with the wrong people or befriended with hackers or simply not into very dodgy and criminal things, the chance that you have or can get access to this part of the internet is scarce. But there are plenty of others out there who are regulars on the dark web.
This includes child traffickers who have classified sites (comparable to our OLX and Gumtree) and auction sites (comparable to our BidorBuy). So what these guys do is scour the internet – especially social media – all day, every day. If they see an image of a child they think there might be a market for, they download that image and upload it to one of these sites. If they have a buyer for that specific child or there’s a lot of interest, only then will they go out and physically kidnap that child.
And if you wonder how they will know where and when to find that child; trust me, it’s very easy to fish out information like this online without even using “darker agenda” connections.
This is why you should absolutely steer clear of posting anything regarding your children online. There are a lot more things to consider when it comes to the digital world and the safety of your children. If you would like to learn more, please contact us to book a training session here.