The Dangers of Having a Social Media Account for Your Child
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  • It’s cute and fun for the parents, and sometimes the kids too, to post photos and videos on social media sites. But are there any dangers they should be worried about? We spoke to Josyn Palma, senior associate at a risk management company, and Francis Acero, Complaints and Investigations division chief at the National Privacy Commission.

    What are the dangers of creating a social media account for your child? 
    Palma: It’s very easy to mine personal information on your child, including age, photos, and current location. While in the Philippines the risks are more physical in nature, like kidnapping or photo stealing, there is also the risk your son or daughter is used as a poster child for malicious activities such as child pornography. As many child porn sites deal with photo trading, it is not uncommon to steal photos of children and sell them on sites. 

    It is also easy to monitor your child’s movements. An innocent check-in into your child’s school reveals where they study, and patterns of behavior can be studied over time to know what time your child goes home. The biggest concern is what is called ‘grooming.’ Strangers contact the child through social media and convince them to leave with the stranger. It becomes a gateway for human trafficking.

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    Acero: Your child can’t give consent without you. [But] you're not always going to be there for your child, to give that consent and to understand the scope of that consent. When you enter your child's personal information in these social media systems, you open your child to their information being processed without your consent, and there are many instances when consent is not required. Then, when your child goes on out alone, the child can disclose your details and expose your information.

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    If a parent has already created a social media account, are there any precautions they can take? 
    Palma: Take it down. If a child under the age of 14 needs a social media account for whatever reason, it is best to have them use the parent’s account until they are well acquainted with the dangers of social media.

    Acero: You need to instruct your child how to protect your or her identity online. Teach your child about safe and unsafe behavior. The same rules apply offline as they do online: don't talk to strangers. Don't go into dark places. When in doubt, ask an adult. Teach them to keep certain things private, like say, where you live.

    What's the worst that can happen? Bad guys figure out where you live and [can come in] when you're out of the house. Slightly less bad: they figure out where your CCTVs are.

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    What are the dangers of posting pictures or videos of your child on your personal account?
    Palma: Posting your child’s photos and videos reveals more information about yourself, but in general it would be wise to keep your own security settings up to par. If your information is vulnerable, so is that of your child

    Acero: Most people use their children's names as their passwords. You might have a complex password, but if it's based on your children’s names, and your children and their names feature prominently on your social media, then you give persons who want to steal your identity a foot in the door. What's more, it tells them that certain things are important to you, and that you can be influenced or manipulated through an appeal to, say, parental guilt.

    People think of hacking as this magical thing where hackers suddenly figure out what your password is. That's Hollywood. What happens in real life is that if you're the target of a hacker, the hacker is going to look at you and what you post and find data about you.

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