Plugged-in parent: Posting kids’ pictures

Q: Is it OK for me to post photos of my child’s birthday party online?

Sharing photos online is the number one social networking activity-more than 60 billion photos have been shared on Facebook alone.

Posting photos of minors should give you pause, especially when you include children other than your own. While your intent may be innocent, privacy is a concern for many parents. Beyond general safety issues, personal family situations, personalities and technical know-how may all be a concern for parents whose child’s photo unintentionally may be copied, distributed and viewed online.

Before posting birthday snapshots online, ask yourself these questions:

Have you asked permission? Use common courtesy and make a simple announcement at the end of the party, “I’m planning on posting photos on my Facebook account tonight. If anyone is uncomfortable, let me know.” You can also include a small note in the party invitation stating that party photos will be posted online after your event. Or create a small card to hand out with goody bags at the end of the party, with your photo sharing access information on it. “Thanks for helping us celebrate today! Party photos will be posted on my Flickr account tomorrow. Email me at (your email) with questions or concerns.”

Who will see your photos? The ability to share with just a small circle of moms or the entire Internet audience can happen with just the click of a security setting. Facebook offers settings that can be customized per album to limit the ability to share. Other photo sharing sites offer similar security settings.

What are children doing? Parents may be sensitive if children are caught in an awkward pose-picking their nose, making a pouting face or stuffing their face. While you may think the photo is innocent, adorable or even hilarious, look at it twice to consider how another parent might feel. If in doubt, don’t post.

Are there other options? Sites like allow you to post your albums online, invite specific visitors to view them and give guests the option to order their favorites. An email attachment is also a great way to share individual photos with a few folks, rather than all your Facebook friends.

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