How to Safely Share Photos of Your Child on Social Media

Woman looking at photos of baby on phone

Verywell / Photo Illustration by Ellen Lindner / Unsplash

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We live in an age where sharing our lives on social media comes almost instinctively to many people. This doesn’t change when we have kids. We feel the urge to share everything about our new bundles of joy.

Photos of their first smile, their first walk, their first day of school, and all the precious moments in between—we want our friends and family to see them. According to one national poll, 84% of mothers and 70% of fathers use social media, many times to share photos of their family. In fact, parents sharing photos of their children is so common there’s even a special term for it—“sharenting.” 

There are many reasons parents might like to share photos including everything from creating a record of memories to building an image online. Sharing also helps us feel less lonely when going through difficult patches in our parenting journeys.

However, sharing photos of your child on social media comes with some risks, so you need to learn how to do it safely. Here's what you need to know.

The Risks of Sharing Your Child’s Photos on Social Media

Sharing anything on social media comes with certain dangers and this includes sharing photos of your child. Sharenting often causes the creation of a digital footprint for your child, which can have negative effects including loss of privacy, financial scams, and potential embarrassment to your kids.

According to a report by Barclays Bank, sharenting could be the cause of about two-thirds of financial scams and identity fraud by 2030.

As a result, you want to take extra precautions when you are sharing photos of your child. Here are some risks involved with posting photos of your child on social media.

Risk of Identity Theft 

Many parents have unwittingly shared confidential information about their kids while sharing photos on social media. This sharing has sometimes even resulted in identity theft.

“Identity theft is a huge problem. Sometimes a post could include the child’s full name, date of birth, city, and state. Just a few clicks will reveal the parents’ personal information. Combine this intel with data breaches and social security numbers readily available on the Dark Web and you have a recipe for easy identity theft and obtaining false credit in the child’s name,” says Kim Komando, a digital lifestyle and cybersecurity expert. 

Difficult to Remove

After sharing a photo of your child, you may suddenly realize that it should be deleted. For instance, you might realize that the photo contains confidential information about you or your child or it’s just an embarrassing photo your child suddenly wants to be removed. 

But, when you share photos on the internet, it’s difficult to completely erase them. Even after you’ve deleted them from your account, the photo may have already been shared by other people or saved by family, friends, or even strangers.

Trying to track down everyone who has the photo is virtually impossible.

Lose Control of the Image

Once you post a photo of your child and other people get a hand on it, what they use it for is out of your control. Even if you delete the photo 10 seconds later, there is already a chance that someone has misused it in some way.

Jessica VanderWier, Child Psychotherapist

Once a photo of our child is online, we essentially release control of that picture. It can be saved, printed, shared, altered by anyone.

— Jessica VanderWier, Child Psychotherapist

"Also, putting a photo with identifying information online can put your child at risk for identity fraud as well as the images being shared and altered for use in child pornography,” says Jessica VanderWier, founder of Our Mama Village and registered parenting and child psychotherapist, who has a master's degree in counseling psychology. 

Photos Belong to Site Owners

Many social media sites have clauses hidden in their terms and conditions that give them rights over the content you share on their platforms. This means when you post a photo of your child on such a site you are handing over ownership of the photo to the owners of the platform.

They can use the photo how they deem fit. And, because you agreed to the terms and conditions, there is not a lot you can do about it.

How to Share Photos of Your Child Safely on Social Media 

Even though there are risks with sharing on social media, this doesn’t mean you should never share photos of your child.  Although some experts completely advise against it, there are many tips and tricks to help you share photos of your child safely. Here are some tips to help you safely post online. 

Check Your Privacy Settings

Whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, it’s advisable to use the strictest privacy settings these accounts offer anywhere you’ll be sharing photos of your child. Also, have a conversation with family and friends who will be following the account and let them know you don't want your child's photos shared.

You also should remind them that it’s important to ask your permission before saving or sharing any photos of your child. Keep in mind, some accounts allow you to set notifications or permissions for tagging your photos or sharing them.

Be sure to make use of these settings on all of your accounts. This way, if someone forgets and tags your child in a photo or tries to share your photo, you will be notified first to grant permission.

Turn Off the Metadata

The metadata of a photo typically contains the time, date, and sometimes even the photo’s location. This simple fact means that a person could trace your location through a photo that contains metadata. 

You can easily make sure the photos you take on your phone don't contain metadata by turning off geotagging in your camera settings. Check this feature regularly because updates to software may default to sharing metadata.

Double-Check Every Photo

It’s very easy to let confidential information slip through the cracks when sharing photos of your child on social media. The casual photo of them on their first day back to school could contain the name and location of their school as well as their age. Likewise, a photo of an art project that you are proud of could contain their full name.

For this reason, it’s important to check and then double-check to make sure there’s no confidential information being shared in these photos. 

Ask Permission

If your child is at an age where they can understand and consent to their photos being shared on social media, then it’s important to ask for their permission. If they ask you not to share a particular photo or any photos of them at all, you need to respect their decision.

Make sharing photos an activity both of you enjoy instead of asking a simple yes or no question. Have them pick out pictures they like, ask them where they’d like it posted, or ask what kind of caption they’d like to use.

You also can use this opportunity to show them how social media works. Talk to them about the risks and safety measures they need to implement when they get to the age where they’ll also be sharing their lives on social media.

Refrain From Posting Photos of Other Kids

When sharing photos of your child, don’t just consider the privacy of your child consider the privacy of other children. Consequently, you should not share any photos with other people’s kids in them without the parents' permission.

If it’s a photo you really want to share, then it’s important to talk to the parents of every child in the photo. If you do have permission to post photos of other kids, be extra cautious to ensure the photos don't contain any vital information or metadata that could put the kids at risk. 

Consider Other Mediums

If the aim of sharing your child’s photos on social media is to share the precious moments of your child’s growth with family and close friends, you can consider other options outside of social media to do this.

After all, many cybersecurity experts suggest that it is near impossible to safely share photos of your child on social media—even if you have a small private account and restrict the number of people who have access to it.

“Accounts get hacked, screenshots are easy to grab, and devices get lost or stolen with passwords readily stored. If you want to share photos with family members, consider gifting them a digital photo frame. You can send photos directly to the frame for family members or friends to enjoy,” says Komando.

Read the Fine Print

When sharing photos of your child on social media, you should avoid sites that reserve the right to use your photos in whatever way they please. You can typically find this information in the site’s terms and conditions.

Even though it might feel cumbersome to comb through all the fine print, it's worth it in the end. Remember, when you post a photo of your child on such a site you lose control of how your child's photo might be used or distributed.

Impact Your Social Media Presence Has on Your Child 

When sharing photos of your kids on social media, another thing to consider is its impact on your kids, especially when they get to an age where they can be more aware and socially conscious. Plus, parents who are active social media users can put their children at risk of bullying by strangers and embarrassment if they post a lot of pictures of their kids.

According to some experts, active social media use could even get in the way of parenting. It could cause you to be emotionally disconnected especially when you are consuming negative or stressful content.

Even though your intent might be to share fun harmless photos of your kids, the real-life impact on them might be different, especially if you overshare.

“Our intent in posting funny photos or stories of our children, of their big meltdowns or feelings might be to simply smile and share a laugh with our friends," says VanderWier. "[But] we need to keep in mind the long-term impact that this may have on our children as they look back on their digital footprint someday."

The psychological impact of a parent oversharing can lead to a child feeling embarrassed, can make them a target for bullying, and can also have long-term impacts on their mental well-being and even feelings of safety in a relationship with their parent, VanderWier says.

A Word from Verywell

Deciding whether to share photos of your kids on social media impacts more than just you, so it's important to be mindful of your posts. Carefully consider what you're posting, what it communicates, and how it could be misconstrued or misused.

Once your kids are old enough where they can give their consent, you should ask for permission before sharing any photos. If they don't want a photo shared, respect their decision. Together, you can decide what can be shared and what should stay private and in doing so, protect their privacy.

5 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. National Poll on Children’s Health. Parents on social media: Likes and dislikes of sharenting. March 16, 2015

  2. Siibak, Andra & Traks, Keily. The dark sides of sharenting. Catalan Journal of Communication & Cultural Studies. 11. 115-121. 2019

  3. Internet Health Report 2019. Who babysits your children's data. April 2019

  4. Australian Government, eSafety Comissioner. Privacy and your Child.

  5. NSW Department of Education. How your social media posts can impact your children. January 2019

By Toketemu Ohwovoriole
Toketemu has been multimedia storyteller for the last four years. Her expertise focuses primarily on mental wellness and women’s health topics.