Cybercrime experts are called on parents to be more careful when posting pictures of their children online.
“Parents are increasing the risks to their children, especially by posting pictures online,” says Thomas-Gabriel Ruediger, an expert in cybercrime with Germany’s Institute of Police.
According to a US study, more than 90 per cent of all two-year-olds today already have some kind of online presence, Ruediger says. If you search Instagram for the hashtag #Instakids, you will get almost 20 million hits.Among them are not only frighteningly revealing pictures of children, but also many that would probably be quite embarrassing to the children – if anyone bothered to ask them. Experts say it’s important for platforms like Instagram and Facebook to take more responsibility.
“On the one hand, it is possible to use filter settings to find and delete images of naked breasts. But at the same time, there are thousands of problematic pictures of children that have comments of a sexual nature underneath,” Ruediger said.
“The most important question isn’t whether to post pictures online, but what kind of pictures and how they are posted,” says Sophie Pohle from German children’s rights organisation Deutsche Kinderhilfswerk, which has called on parents to think before posting.
According to education professor Nadia Kutscher, the explicit wish of the children not to be shown is sometimes even ignored by the parents, especially in less privileged families. The reason given by these parents: “But you look so funny.”
Many parents struggle to understand what the presence of their children on social media really means, says cybercriminologist Ruediger.
“We don’t yet know which biometric data can be read from photos later.”
But the greatest danger is still that criminals like sex offenders or stalkers use the shared information about the children.
For example, there are sites that automatically copy images from Instagram accounts and make them available on other platforms, says Ruediger.
“In addition, children are given a kind of fixed digital identity by their parents before they themselves have the opportunity to define themselves online”. – dpa