Is it safe to post pictures of your child online?

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KimBy Kim Z. Dale

Some people openly share pictures of their children on public blogs. Other bloggers only use photos in which their children’s faces are hidden. Some social media users only share photos of their kids with a select group of friends. Others don’t post pictures of their children online at all. Who’s right? Is it safe to post pictures of your child online?

It depends on what you are afraid of.

Below are four commonly cited concerns about posting children’s pictures online.


The overwhelming majority of child abduction cases involve someone who has had personal contact with the child, usually a family member. Abductions by strangers are almost always crimes of opportunity without a planned target.

If you are going through a vicious custody battle or know people who may want to take or harm your child you may not want to post pictures online.

Minimize the risk:

  1. Turn off geo tagging on your phone, camera, and social media accounts to avoid sharing where the photo was taken.
  2. Don’t post pictures that reveal your child’s routine, such ones that show a school sign or street address.
  3. Do a “latergram” and wait to post photos from easily recognizable locations until after you’ve left.



Sadly there are cases of shared child photos being posted on pedophile websites. This is a sickening experience for a parent who discovers it has happened.

Minimize the risk:

  1. Only post pictures of your child fully clothed.



Other types of “photo reusing” are far more common than sharing on pedophile sites. If you post your photos publicly it is very easy for someone to use your picture on their website or even turn your child into a meme.

Minimize the risk:

  1. Watermarks can be a deterrent to reuse without permission. However some people will still use the photo unless you use a watermark that obscures the picture so much it is barely worth sharing.
  2. For social media shares, limit the privacy settings to a group of people you trust not to share your picture without your consent.



Like most online activity, sharing photos can result in harassment including trolling comments, threats, sexual overtures, or other unwelcome messages.

Minimize the risk:

  1. If posting photos publicly be sure you have moderation capabilities to remove inappropriate comments and block repeat offenders.
  2. If a “friend” makes an offensive joke on social media remove the comment and let that person know you found it inappropriate. If someone keeps leaving inappropriate comments, unfriend them or at least remove them from the list of people you share photos with.

Ultimately the decision of whether to share your child’s photo, and with what audience, is one of personal preference. And keep in mind that different people have different privacy preferences, so it’s polite to ask before sharing photos of other people’s children. As for yourself, choose level of privacy that makes you feel most comfortable.


Kim Z. Dale is an information security and data privacy specialist and a playwright. She writes the Listing Beyond Forty blog for ChicagoNow. Join her on Twitter (@observacious), Google+ ( or Facebook (ListingBeyondForty).

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