LIFESTYLE
18/01/2018 16:00 SAST | Updated 18/01/2018 16:00 SAST

Dear Parents Posting Back-To-School Pics Online – Be Careful

"You just never know if your child is a target or not," says the Film and Publications Board's Manala Botolo.

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Online predators never sleep. They are always hunting for their next prey, so as a parent or a guardian, be careful to not make your child an easy target by what you post online.

With schools opening this week, many parents dropped off their children at school for the first time, with many happy and not-so-happy images of the tots shared online. Some of these pictures bore full details of the names of the children, the grade and school they were going to – some even had a location.

While this may seem harmless, it can be lucrative information for a paedophile, or any person online looking to do your child harm.

"Your child's face, name, school and location is known by everyone who has access to that social medium. It becomes easier to trace the child," says Manala Botolo, acting manager for communications and public education at the Film and Publications Board.

'You never know if your child is a target or not' – Manala Botolo

"If you regularly post about where you work and you check in and out, a paedophile may be able to use that information to determine when you're not with your child and pretend to be 'mommy's friend' – because they know so much about you through social media," she said.

There are a few ways you can better protect your child online:

1. Adjust your settings to private. In this way, all posts about your child can only be seen by your online friends and not the general public.

2. Avoid posting the name of your child's school.

3. Avoid showing their school badge indicating the school – or blur the badge out in the photo.

4. Be wary of posting your locations. A criminal can easily trace your comings and goings through your posts.

5. Talk to your child. Warn them about potential dangers, and what to do when confronted by someone they do not know.

"We are not saying don't post online at all. We are saying it is wise to be safe online, especially because a lot of our lives are shared online," Botolo said. "You just never know if your child is a target or not."