Protecting Your Children's Identity Online

Two of my favorite blogs, WillowCrowns and Olive & Tate, recently posted their views on how they work to protect their kids online and it opened my eyes to some of the new weird stuff that's going on out there (like baby role-playing, so creepy).  Everybody has their own opinion of what's okay or safe to share or not to share and I have to warn I take a much more overly-cautious approach than most.  I encourage you to read Megan and Stephanie's posts to see their tips, which I think would be of help for most bloggers who still want to share a lot of personal photos with the world.  

Protecting your Children and Family's Identity Online: Important tips for bloggers and everyone else

For me, I try very hard to keep public photos of our little one to an extreme minimum.  I don't have her in my profile pictures or cover photos and all my personal accounts are locked down to "friends only."  Even still, I try not to post too many photos of her even on my private accounts.  Instead I do share a lot of photos with family and close friends in texts or e-mails (sorry for filling up your inboxes, guys!).  I feel like I have a lot more control over who has access to the pictures I share this way.  

I know as a blogger the best way to make a personal connection with your audience is to share personal photos and stories of your life, and while many of the blogs I enjoy reading most do just that I'm not willing to risk putting all that out there.  

I'm certainly not an internet privacy expert, and my tips aren't 100% fool-proof, but I encourage you to read on for some basic tips I feel are very important for everyone.    

Basic Internet Safety Tips

  1. If you have a blog or a business, create separate accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) for personal use and for public use.  Make sure all your personal accounts are locked down to "private."  
  2. Never use photos of your children or your home in your profile or cover photos.  
  3. Go through your friends list and make sure you're okay sharing information with everyone on it.  If not, consider un-friending people or moving them to a "Restricted/Limited Profile" List (this feature is available on Facebook).  
  4. Turn off Geotagging on photos which could be used to pinpoint the exact places your photos are taken, even right down to your living room.  A quick explanation and how-to video on how to turn it off can be found here.  
  5. Never publicly check-in or add locations to photos - and don't use the "Name this Location" feature on Instagram (at least not publicly), even to put in witty headlines.  I don't know how many times I've seen a fellow blogger use the Name this Location field on Instagram to put in a plug for their website or a sale.  However, if you're not careful, it records exactly where you posted that picture from.  If someone clicks on that field it then brings up a map and you can zoom right down to the street view of wherever the picture is posted from (in other words, you just showed everyone on the internet exactly where you live).  
  6. If you have a blog or business, get a PO Box and don't use your home address.  Make sure to use the PO Box for all business correspondence, return addresses on product you're shipping out, and to receive products for collabs or to review.  

Am I a little over-protective?  Probably.  But watermarks can be photoshopped out, photos can be stolen, locations can be pinpointed.. unfortunately it's the age we live in and I think everyone - blogger or not - needs to be aware and a little more wary.  

Do you have any other basic internet privacy tips to add?  Please share them below.  

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