Guilty of 'sharenting'? Here are some tips from cybersecurity experts to protect your children

Posted at 9:09 AM, Nov 10, 2022

Have you heard of the term 'sharenting'? It refers to parents who share too much about their kids online. Barclays Bank says it expects sharenting will account for two-thirds of identity fraud facing young people by 2030.

Jasmine Hood Miller is a director at Common Sense Media, an organization that helps parents decide what's appropriate for their kids. She says there are multiple reasons parents should be cautious when posting online.

"Once it's out there, you can't take it back," Hood Miller said.

Posting on social media is something many of us do, but how much is too much?

"Any time you share things online, it creates a, what we call a digital footprint, and that's basically an electronic paper trail," Hood Miller said.

Hassan Zamir, a contributing author to a book about cybersecurity, says parents are risking the possibility of identity fraud when they share too much about their kids online.

"The cybercriminals don't have to be a direct friend with you on social media," Zamir said. "They can be just a friend of a friend of a friend in your network."

Both Hood Miller and Zamir say cybercriminals are doing what's called data mining. They collect information about people online so they can attempt to steal their identity.

Take a post about your baby's birth for example. When you share your baby's full name, birth date, and where they were born, that's quite a bit of information that Zamir says someone could use for fraudulent loans, credit card transactions or online shopping scams.

Zamir says the first thing you'll want to do is make all your social media profiles private. He also suggests deleting a photo's geotag location before you post it. And when it comes to deciding what to post, Hood Miller recommends you pause before you post.

"Thinking about your children, right?" Hood Miller said. "They may not want to grow up later and find images of them like potty training or bath time online."

Hood Miller says there are alternatives to sharing exciting updates with your loved ones.

"Create like a closed group with family members that they can share photos through different apps or online platforms," Hood Miller said.

Maybe it's a text chain or a private Google photos album. Maybe you create a private Instagram profile and only allow family members to follow.

"You can have that connection with family, but not expose your children," Hood Miller said.