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Alberta RCMP warns partents to be mindful of privacy risks on social media

As the kids go back to school Alberta RCMP urges parents about the importance of online privacy, especially when it comes to sharing first-day photos of children.

RCMP says it is common to see photos of children posted to social media to commemorate the start of the school year alongside boards or placards outlining fun facts and personal details about them.

The information included often includes the child’s name, age, school, grade, favourite colour or activity, and more. 

RCMP says the intentions behind the posts are innocent, but the personal details posted to social media can risk the safety and privacy of the children. The information in the photos can be used to identify, find, and build a false sense of trust or security with a child.

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In a news release, the Alberta RCMP say “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.”

To avoid such risks, the Alberta RCMP encourages both parents and children to keep in mind the following safety tips:

Parents:

  • Do not post images to social media that include the name of the school your child attends.
  • Ensure photos are taken outside of undisclosed locations and do not include visible addresses, such as house numbers or street addresses.
  • Avoid posting specific details about your child. Simply include a sign that reads something like “First Day of School” instead. Or keep these types of posters off the web entirely.
  • If you are posting photos of children in general, ensure your online privacy settings are set to maximize security.
  • Speak with children about online safety and have parental monitor software or ensure parental security settings are in place on their social media accounts.
  • Have conversations with your kids about stranger danger and outline safety plans with them, i.e., establish safe words, identify trusted adults, etc.

Children:

  • Do not give out personal information online or share details including your last name, address, school, etc. on your social media profiles.
  • Have a parent review photos or videos before posting them online.
  • If you feel uncomfortable with online activity or interactions, or are unsure if they are safe, tell a parent or trusted adult.

Alberta RCMP Cst. Lauren Mowbray says children look to adults to act in their best interest both online and in their day-to-day lives.

“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.”

For more internet-safety resources and information, please visit the RCMP website at https://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/is-si/index-eng.htm.

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