For much of the UK, last week marked the end of the Summer Holidays and the start of a brand new school year. With a reported 1.3billion images of children shared by family members on social media each year in the UK, not everyone is aware of the potential risk these images pose to both themselves and their children if they get into the wrong hands (or handsets). So, with parents replacing their mantlepiece with their social media channels to display photos, what are the online risks associated with back to school photos and how can parents mitigate these risks?
A simple photo of a child ready to leave for school can reveal numerous identifying details that could be used maliciously:
- School Name and Location: If a child’s school badge or logo is visible on either their uniform, book bag, or PE bag, anyone who sees the photos can learn where the child attends school. A quick Google search can reveal the exact location and any contact details of the school.
- Home Address: Back to school photos are often taken right before leaving for the school run, resulting in many posed in front of the front door with the house number or name visible. Other identifying features such as nearby street signs, cars on the driveway and access points on to the property may also be visible.
- Journey to School: Some parents may unknowingly reveal information about the way in which their child travels to school. This may be walking without their parents or a whole family car journey, leaving the (now identifiable) house unattended until at least the start the of the school day.
- Child’s Name: Particularly with younger children, their name is often written large and clearly on their school book bag. If a child is approached by a stranger, calling them by name, they may feel a sense of familiarity and safety.
- Age: Parents will often caption their back to school photos stating which year group their child is starting. From this, an approximation of the child’s age can also be made.
Surrey Police have shared the perfect Back to School Photo Guide (below) to ensure you and family are safe and protected whilst still sharing those first day pictures.
Making sure your online privacy settings are up to date and secure can also help reduce potential vulnerabilities. Download our 3-step guide to make sure only those you choose can see your content on Facebook.