This week we are going to piggyback off of our Tuesday tidbit. Let’s dive deep into the social media policy and the reason that your family needs to have a social media policy. Though you may enjoy snapshots of your kids throughout the day, the oversharing on social network sites can pose a safety threat to both your family and your home.
You should have a social media policy for anyone that provides care for your children (yes, even aunts, uncles, and grandparents). it is very important that you establish boundaries for what information you want to be shared about your family with the world wide web.
One day while out shopping at Target a little kid ran away from their nanny and into the aisle where I was with my charge. They actually ran into my charge and both kids fell down. I helped my charge up and turned to help the other kid up and I actually recognized the kid. As expected, the child began to cry and without thinking I just used the kids name and said “It’s okay _____, you don’t have to cry”. The kid freaks out and of course as I say that the nanny rounds the corner and is completely freaked out and picks the kid up into her arms, turning and breaking out in a jog down the diaper aisle. I apologize profusely and say “didn’t mean to freak you guys out but I follow the mom on Instagram.”
Now this is insanely scary because I’m just a nice nanny, strolling the aisles of Target to kill time before carpool. Imagine how dangerous of a situation it would be if I was another random adult without good intentions. This is why we encourage parents to be mindful when posting information about their families, but especially your children.
These are a few tips we suggest for enforcing in your social media policy. The policy can be added in the contract so that both you and your nanny know what is off limits when it comes to posting information online.
Avoid posting any identifying information, including tags to other social media accounts. Unless they specifically asked to be tagged, you should avoid tagging parents, their home, location in the city, or anything that can be used to identify your family. If you do tag, be sure to conceal the tag behind the image or to blend in with the background. Instagram has a paint drop tool that can help with this. When posting photos of children, be aware of school uniforms, t-shirts, or school bags that may reveal where they attend school or participate in extracurricular activities.
Don’t check in or make posts about events and locations you plan to attend. When sharing information about events or locations, be sure to post after your charges are long gone and refrain from posting photos at identifiable landmarks, playgrounds, and in front of schools. Obviously if it isn't a place you frequent posting about your annual trip (after you've already departed) to the zoo is fine, but if its a weekly trip, refrain from posting about it.
Review personal privacy settings on your applications. Often times social media apps automatically record frequently visited locations, which can be dangerous if this info falls into the wrong hands. Additionally, encourage anyone posting photos of your children to make their pages private. An alternative is to have a private page just for pictures of your children, which makes it easier for family and friends to watch them grow. This will allow you to control exactly who follows the page, and approve or delete as needed.
Avoid posting about vacations and routines. If you’re posting every Saturday morning from your childs soccer game, it will make it obvious that not only your family isn’t home, but they can also predict exactly where your child will be. Posting vacation pictures will also let people know that your home is vacant, making it a prime target for thieves and burglars.
Avoid using names (first and/or last) while you’re out. My charges have nicknames that we use while we are out, as I try to refrain from using their full names in public. Also be mindful of hashtags, particularly name hashtags. The occasional #hotmessexpress hashtag is fine, but #firstnamelastname or #firstnamemiddlename should be an absolute NO! Hashtagging on social media makes images much easier to find and share. The good thing about private pages is that they often don’t allow images to be shared with people who aren’t following your profile.
Consider using emojis to cover full faces, or avoid posting faces all together. We love the sweet toothless grins, but sharing faces makes your children easier to identify, particularly if one of the parents (or both) are public figures.
Monitor social media/ screen time use for children and place parental controls on any devices the kids have unmonitored access. Youtube is a black hole for inappropriate content sandwiched in between children’s programming. There have been many instances in which children thought they were watching a cartoon, but it was really a horrifically graphic scene using the characters from that cartoon. In addition to the video streaming services, video games that have a chat feature can also be problematic, as the chat features can be accessed by people of all ages. Be sure to disable the voice and chat features on the online video games, including Roblox and Minecraft. Parental controls can prevent accidental clicks on videos and sites that are of an inappropriate nature but also be sure to pay attention to the video game ratings.
When it comes to social media, we encourage operating with the idea that the internet is forever. It’s more than okay to share, but it’s so easy to overshare in today’s society. We want to keep your children and family safe so save the bulk of your photos and videos for the family group chat, and encourage your loved ones to do the same!