The 'Digital Kidnapping', 'Adoption Scams' and other dangers of Kindergarten photo sharing.

Łukasz Bonczol
Digital kidnapping and adoption scams are real concerns, and kindergartens and nursery schools should take specific precautions to protect their children's digital identities. To minimize these risks, they should obtain written consent, have strict privacy settings, and be mindful of the content shared. Kindergartens and nursery schools should monitor their online presence to protect their children from digital kidnapping.

Digital Kidnapping

This term was coined to describe the situation where strangers steal photos of children from social media profiles and create fake accounts, claiming to be the child's parent or guardian. In some cases, these photos were used to fuel role-playing scenarios or simply to gain attention and sympathy from others.

A case that gained attention was the story of April, a mother who found her child's pictures on a stranger's Instagram account. The stranger had created an entire fictional life for the child, even going as far as to give the child a new name.

Adoption Scams

In another case, a woman named Jess found her photos, along with her child's, being used in an adoption scam. The scammers had created a fake adoption agency profile using Jess's photos, claiming she was giving up her child for adoption.

These examples show that child identity theft related to social media photos is a real concern. To protect your children's digital identities, it is important to be cautious about what you share online and to adjust your privacy settings on social media platforms.

Can photos published on social media by kindergartens and nursery schools be the cause of digital kidnapping or adoption scams?

When kindergartens and nursery schools publish photos on social media, they may inadvertently expose children to the risks of digital kidnapping or adoption scams. To minimize these risks, it's essential for these institutions to take specific precautions.

First and foremost, they should always obtain written consent from parents or guardians before posting any images of their children on social media or other online platforms. When sharing images, it's crucial to avoid including any identifying details, such as the children's full names, the name of the school, or location information.

The social media accounts of the kindergarten or nursery school should have strict privacy settings, limiting access to photos and information to parents, guardians, and staff members only. Geotagging features should be disabled, and location data should be removed from photos before posting them online to prevent potential misuse.

Moreover, it's important to be mindful of the content shared. Images that could potentially be embarrassing, sensitive, or inappropriate for the children involved should not be posted. Both staff and parents need to be educated about the importance of privacy and the risks associated with sharing children's photos online. They should be encouraged to follow best practices for online safety.

Lastly, institutions should monitor their online presence by regularly searching for their name and photos online to ensure that images are not being misused. In case unauthorized use of images is discovered, the incident should be reported to the social media platform, and the content should be removed.

By adopting these measures, kindergartens and nursery schools can help protect the privacy and safety of the children in their care, reducing the risks associated with sharing children's photos on social media.

How to protect your child from digital kidnapping

Digital kidnapping is a disturbing phenomenon that puts children's privacy and safety at risk. To protect your children from digital kidnapping, consider taking the following steps:

  1. Review privacy settings: Ensure that your social media accounts have strict privacy settings. Limit access to your photos and personal information to close friends and family members only.
  2. Think before you post: Be cautious about what you share online, especially photos and personal details of your children. Avoid posting pictures that reveal their school, extracurricular activities, or other identifying information.
  3. Remove geotags: Disable geotagging features on your smartphone and remove location data from photos before posting them online. This prevents strangers from tracking your child's location.
  4. Use a watermark: Consider adding a watermark to your photos, which can make it more difficult for others to use them without permission. You can use apps or software to easily add a watermark to your pictures.
  5. Educate your children: Teach your children about the importance of privacy and the risks of sharing personal information online. Encourage them to be cautious with their own social media accounts and to be mindful of the information they share.
  6. Monitor your child's online presence: Regularly search for your child's name and photos online to ensure their information is not being misused. You can set up Google Alerts to notify you when your child's name appears in new search results.
  7. Report misuse: If you find your child's photos being used without permission, report the incident to the social media platform and request that the content be removed. You can also contact local authorities if you believe your child's identity has been stolen or their safety is at risk.

By following these steps, you can significantly reduce the chances of your child becoming a victim of digital kidnapping and help safeguard their privacy and safety online.