New York: Parents, take note! What you share about your children on social media platforms presents new and often unanticipated risks, a new study has warned.
Researchers from the University of Florida in the US said pediatricians should provide parents healthy rules of thumb about online disclosures related to their children.
Parents often create their children's first digital footprints. Previous research has shown that 92 per cent of two-year-olds in the US have an online presence, and about one-third make their first appearance on social media sites within their first 24 hours of life.
"The amount of information placed in the digital universe about our children in just a few short years is staggering," said Bahareh Keith, assistant professor from Florida.
"Parents often consider how to best protect children while the child is using the internet. However, parents initially do not always consider how their own use of social media may affect their children's well-being," said Keith.
Social media offers many benefits to families, Keith said, including giving parents a voice as they struggle through difficult child-rearing experiences, building community and celebrating the joys of their lives.
"But when we share on social media, we must all consider how our online actions affects our children's well-being, both today and long into the future," she said.
Pediatricians can advocate for increased awareness among parents to protect a child's online identity, researchers said.
"We need to encourage responsible and thoughtful sharing and address a dearth of discussion on the topic that leaves even the most well-meaning parents with few resources to thoroughly appreciate the issue before pressing 'share' on their digital devices," said Stacey Steinberg, law professor at Florida.
Steinberg cautions that information shared can be stolen or repeatedly re-shared, unbeknownst to parents, potentially ending in the hands of paedophiles or identify thieves.
"Even more likely, the child might one day want to have some privacy and control over his or her digital identity," Steinberg said, noting that the first "children of social media" are just now entering adulthood, college and the job market.
"Untangling the parent's right to share his or her own story and the child's right to enter adulthood free to create his or her own digital footprint is a daunting task," Steinberg said.
Researchers advise never to share pictures that show their children in any state of undress or share their child's actual location in a post.