Keeping Your Child Safe in a Cyber World

By YAN WANG

(NYC/CBS) With family and friends scattered all over the world, you no doubt want to share pictures of your baby as he or she grows up. But in this digital age, it's important to keep your child's safety in mind, as well. When it comes to social networking sites, while you're sharing information with your family and friends, you also could be sharing it with everyone else who has an Internet connection, so here are a few things to remember the next time you click "upload."

Before you share a photo of your child frolicking in the yard with a diaper on his or her head, ask yourself, "Will my child appreciate this being public ten years down the road?" If you think the answer would be "no," or that it might surface when your son or daughter is going through a rigorous job application process later, then do them a favor, and refrain. Keep those types of pictures for in-person family gatherings.

Pictures: Growing Up In the Public Eye

These days, privacy settings are fairly loose, and with hundreds of friends on Facebook and public access to Twitter pictures, it's a good idea to not upload naked baby photos of your child. Naked photos are cute and wholesome to share with close family and friends, but when you share on a public social media site, you are sharing with everyone -- even people you are not friends with, depending on your settings.

Again, it is tempting to fan your curiosity flame by accepting or "friending" people you haven't seen or heard from in ages, but be careful who you're friends with. Often times, a friend on Facebook would still be considered a perfect stranger in all other ways. With hundreds of friends, as soon as you press "share," information about your child, along with pictures, is posted on all the mini-feeds of the people on your friends list.

Privacy settings are defaulted to be open, sharing all the information you deem appropriate to put up on your profile. You can change your privacy settings under "account information" if you want to control the way your statuses, photos, wall, and searches work.

OpenBook.org is a search engine using only information Facebook provides. You can search a key term, and narrow your search to men or women, and it will pop up the latest status updates using that term. They are not hacking -- this information is open and free to the public. But they also offer a privacy page to help you configure your settings if you need help. Don't limit yourself just to only censoring pictures. Remember, status and text content can be public, too.

Be careful when giving out information you may think is simple, such as the name of your child's school, or the neighborhood you live in. Addresses and phone numbers should never be posted on a website. At the end of the day, even if you think all your privacy settings are set to the highest standard, still assume all information is public. There are always around firewalls and settings, and if the information is provided, it can easily be found.


Check out Eye on Parenting Wednesday, when we'll talk more about online safety and your kids.

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