Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

JOONDALUP, Australia — Posting pregnancy photos online can establish a digital identity for your child that may be exploited, data scientists in Australia warn. Experts indicate that once a child’s image appears online, they become susceptible to identity theft or unauthorized distribution of their images to third parties. Additionally, parents should carefully consider the content they share about their children online, as it contributes to forming their child’s digital identity.

“A lot of parents are unaware that when they post things like photos or identifying information, such as school uniforms, they are creating a digital identity for their children. Even when they post about their pregnancy or anticipating the birth of the child, they give away identifying data. And that creates a digital identity even before the child is born,” says study author Dr. Valeska Berg of Edith Cowan University.

The study, published in the journal Pediatrics and Parenting, finds that many parents still think sharing pictures on social platforms is safe.

“A lot of the times people think that if they only share with their friends on social platforms like Facebook, that it is quite safe. However, we often have contacts on those social networks that are only superficially known. Therefore, I would recommend private messaging through Messenger, WhatsApp, Signal and so on. That is a lot safer than public sharing,” Dr. Berg continues in a media release.

pregnant woman holding ultrasound results
Researchers say parents should carefully consider the content they share about their children online, as it contributes to forming their child’s digital identity. (Photo by Christin Noelle from Unsplash)

The study author emphasizes the importance of creating secure networks, whether on Instagram or Facebook, noting that merely setting your profile to private is insufficient to protect your children’s images. Dr. Berg advises obscuring the child’s face in pictures to preserve their anonymity and recommends avoiding the posting of identifying information about the child.

“We found that some parents will use tools to blur out the face, or only take pictures where the child is facing away from the camera. The less information you can put out on your child, the better,” Berg adds.

The team also notes that when digital identities are created early for the child without the input of that child, their right to create their own digital footprint or identity is taken away, leaving them without a voice and choice.

“Where possible, children should be involved in the development of their digital identity. Research to identify how this can be achieved and to give voice to the experiences of young children is needed to better understand this important and fast-moving area. Future studies should explore the perspectives of children as key stakeholders in the creation of their digital identity,” Dr. Berg concludes.

SWNS writer Sharin Hussein contributed to this report.

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