Everybody else is posting back-to-school pics. Why shouldn't I?

To post or not to post? That is the question. Here's everything you need to know to make the right call.

Love it or dread it - the first day of school brings big emotions. Whether you’ve been hanging out for it, or holding back the tears, it’s only natural to mark the occasion with a photo or video. 

Crisp uniforms, spotless backpacks, and fresh haircuts make for the perfect photo op. But when first-day pics go online, they can also provide the perfect opportunity for predators and paedophiles, warn Australian Federal Police. 

Most of us don’t really think about images as “information.” But to those seeking to target kids online, that’s exactly what they are. 

The reality is, any photo you post online contains an entire dossier of personal details: race, age group, gender, location information, potential health information and more. 

What’s more, the image of your child's face can be used for facial recognition, and location, either by visual information or geo-tagging.

Add a school uniform to the mix, and you're giving away your child's full name, race, gender, age, school name, grade and location - in addition to your own name.

From here, cybercriminals can and do locate information on the school's business hours and transport options. Are you getting the picture?

In a nutshell, why take the risk?

But wait, there's more ...

... because the risks just keep coming. 

According to the AFP, an increasing number of predators are assuming the identity of unsuspecting children - cutting and pasting the images parents may be tempted to post this week  -  to create fake social media accounts.

These convincing assumed personas are then used as a way to contact other kids to groom and exploit. 

AFP Commander for the Australian Centre To Counter Child Exploitation (ACCCE) Hilda Sirec said while it was normal for children and young teens to want to interact with people their own age online, predators “prey upon this”.

Sound far-fetched? If only! 

A Melbourne man pleaded guilty to 25 charges of child exploitation this month, following an investigation by the AFP which found he had posed as a teen to gain the trust of victims. 

In May 2020, a Sydney man was convicted for having targeted 48 children, posing as a young girl to solicit images from kids. 

A WA man is currently facing 312 charges for similar alleged offences involving 285 alleged victims worldwide.

Think it through

We tell our kids to think before they post. We need to take our own good advice when it comes to posting school pics. 

The BAR method is one way to think it through:

  • B - BENEFIT: Will it benefit my child? 
  • A - ALTERNATIVE: Is there an alternative way to share the photo? 
  • R - RISK: Do the opportunities that come from posting the photo online outweigh the risks? 

Take action

  • If you believe a child is in imminent danger, call police triple-0 or visit your local police station.
  • If your child is experiencing issues online, it is essential to collect evidence - taking screenshots or photos of the content. Once you have collected your evidence, block and report on the app, site or platform where the issue occurred.

Online child sexual exploitation can be reported to the ACCCE or to Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.



 

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Topics: Cyber Bullying, Parental Controls, Screen time, Mobile Apps, Excessive Device Usage, online safety, Social Media, primary school, online privacy, school photos

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