Consider safety before posting back-to-school photos

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Most of us take pictures as the kiddos in our lives head off to school.

Many of us post them online, too.

The Bivona Child Advocacy Center has some words of caution.

Those signs many kids hold up on their first day of school – identifying their teacher, grade, even school name – are fun, but they may share a little too much with strangers.

“Even if you think your account is secure, you just don’t know,” Dr. Daniele Lyman-Torres said. She’s the president of Bivona.

As children head off to school, and parents start celebrating, Dr. Lyman-Torres says everyone could use a refresher on best practices.

“The back-to-school season is always a great time for parents to have safety conversations with their children,” Dr. Lyman-Torres said.

Your child will have a new teacher and may be going to a new school or taking a new route.

“If students walk to school, making sure that they have a safety plan – that they understand that you would never send a stranger to pick them up,” Dr. Lyman-Torres said.

When you snap that early-morning photo on the first day, Dr. Lyman-Torres stresses: think about what a potential predator could learn from your social media feed.

“I’m in this grade, I’m going to this school this is my teacher, I love my dog, I love my sister, my brother. Those are all pieces of information that strangers don’t necessarily need,” Dr. Lyman-Torres said.

She warns that predators could use that information to reach out to your child and pretend like they know them.

The best practice is to avoid sharing it to begin with. But having regular stranger-danger conversations can also help lower the risk.

“Some of those things that you might not think you need to go over as a parent but you should,” Dr. Lyman-Torres recommends.

She also encourages people make sure things like addresses or license plates aren’t in the picture. If they are, blur them out.

Yes, even if your profile is private.

“”You might think your account is secure, but the algorithms, the friends of the friends of the friends, you just don’t know. Once you put it out there, it’s kind of hard to take it back,” Dr. Lyman-Torres said.

These tips aren’t mean to cause alarm, she added. People don’t need to hide their kids completely. But being smart about what you post, and checking in with your kids, can go a long way.

“Take a glance at it before you hit post and just make a few edits and that will help it be much more safe,” Dr. Lyman-Torres said.

Bivona has some tips for parents here.