mother on cell phone digital citizen social media sharing

As digital citizens, let’s look at some considerations to keep in mind if you are expecting a bundle of joy and eager to use social media.

Congratulations! Other than wedding day photos, sonar images are probably the most treasured photos in any couple’s stack of memories. It is a miracle to be pregnant and to actually see how your baby develops is magnificent. Of course, you want to share the life-changing news with the world and invite your people to join you on the pregnancy journey. While some parents prefer to keep the information private, others feel it is the perfect opportunity to share moments and milestones via social media platforms.

“It is hard to keep your child’s profile totally secure and protected from people who are looking at it for the wrong reasons.”

There are different viewpoints on this and, of course, as parents, we need to make the best decisions for our children. In this article I’m particularly interested in the best way to manage this for the baby’s sake and not focused on what other people on the platform will think of your images and messages (there are many comments and articles to read with extreme viewpoints). Warning! This could impact your views quite a bit and I might be bursting some bubbles. Unfortunately, there is a dark side of the web and my mission is to save lives and to empower you to be safer online.

Where is your billboard located?

By placing your unborn child’s photos on social media, you are placing constant updates on a billboard – and not one on the highway, which is only seen by a couple of thousand motorists per day and only for the duration of the billboard’s availability. No, you are putting these images on an everlasting, digital billboard located on the cyber highway with no limit to the number of viewers who will see the images and who can take screen grabs thereof.

The risk lies in the people who see the images, who now know that you are pregnant and who might use the information for the wrong reasons. Additionally, your child might be unhappy about the fact that these images could become part of his/her digital footprint without their consent.

Your images are sharing more than you think:

Every digital photo we take records the date, the exact location it was taken at (GPS coordinates, if it is enabled) and data about the actual camera settings. This is called Exchangeable Image File Format (EXIF), which enables us to share lots of data in the form of a picture or image. Even though the sonar scanned image was printed by the doctor, you might have taken a photo of that image with your device.

The risk: If someone really wanted to, they could use images in combination with the other information you share on your profile (favourite restaurants, place of work, etc.) to find you. This is why it is better to not share photos of children in school uniforms.

Social media accounts for the unborn:

The Terms and Conditions of social media platforms state clearly that there is an age restriction for a variety of reasons. When you create an account on behalf of your child, you become legally liable for that account and all the policies applicable to a particular platform.

The risk: It is hard to keep your child’s profile totally secure and protected from people who are looking at it for the wrong reasons. Ensure that your child is always fully dressed in all the images you do post and that it won’t defame or embarrass them when they apply for university or a job one day. With artificial intelligence, virtual reality and augmented reality we don’t really know what their career landscapes will look like; however, we can make it easier for them by letting them create their own footprint.

Do keep the following in mind:

  • Human trafficking.
  • Syndicates who deal in child images.
  • Privacy concerns for your family and ultimately your child.
  • Photos of your newborn baby and the information card people usually include in the photos containing private information, which could put him or her at risk.

Remember these tips if/when you do decide to post those images:

  • Delete/crop your personal information in the frame of the sonar image.
  • Ensure that no details of the doctor can be seen unless you have written permission to share their details online.
  • Date of birth, the name of the hospital and other details should be kept private and only shared after the amazing event has happened. Obviously, you will share this via other mediums with people you trust who can join you for the momentous occasion.

Thank you for staying with me. You have received advice to inform your future decisions noting that I’m looking out for your baby and I’m so excited about their future! Enjoy the journey and treasure the moments.

Rianette Leibowitz, Cyber Safety & Digital Parenting Thought Leader, Brand South Africa Play Your Part Ambassador and founder of SaveTNet Cyber Safety

Rianette Leibowitz of Cyber Wellness with Rianette
Passionate about sharing messages. TV & Radio Presenter, ChangeAgent for SaveTNet Cyber Safety, Accredited Public Relations Professional