(File photo/Red Deer Advocate)

(File photo/Red Deer Advocate)

Alberta RCMP have suggestions for online safety with kids heading back to school

With the return to school just around the corner, the Alberta RCMP is reminding parents to be vigilant when it comes to online privacy surrounding their children.

In particular, the RCMP are urging parents to think twice about posting first day of school photos to their social media accounts, especially when they have all of the child’s information on them.

“It has become increasingly common for parents to share images of their children alongside boards or placards outlining fun facts and personal details about them,” notes an RCMP media release dated Aug. 30.

These “fun facts” often include the child’s name, school, age, teacher, grade and a host of other information which, according to the RCMP, can risk the child’s safety and privacy.

“The personal information often included in these photos can be used by individuals to identify, find, and build a false sense of trust or security with a child. A stranger could approach a youth, list their personal details, and claim they know their parents or are a trustworthy adult, when it is in fact untrue,” continued the release.

To keep their children safe, the RCMP recommends. that parents:

-Not post images which include the name of the child’s school.

-Take photos are in locations with no visible address or readily identifiable landmarks.

-Avoid details in the photo, or on a tablet, banner, etc, including things such as grade, age, etc.

-Have their privacy settings set as high as they can be when posting images of children.

-Speak with children regarding online safety and have parental security settings enabled on children’s accounts.

-Have conversations with children regarding the dangers of strangers, identify safe adults, and create safety plans.

On the part of children, the RCMP suggests they:

-Not give out personal information online, including last name, address, school, etc.

-Have a parent review photos or videos before uploading.

-Telling a parent if uncomfortable with online activity or feeling unsafe.

“We want to ensure that the start of this school year is a safe one. By being aware of the photos and details we are posting online, we can reduce the risk of our children’s personal details being used to exploit their safety and well-being,” said Cst. Lauren Mowbray, Alberta RCMP. “Children look to us as adults to act in their best interest – both online and in their day-to-day lives.”

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