How many times we have seen a parent with a charming photo of their baby splashing around in the pool? Or playing in the sand at a beach wearing absolutely nothing? In this new era of the “2.0 eruption”, it is very common to see every day, moms and dads sharing these invaluable moments on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other platforms.

While it’s not hard to find pictures of children over the Internet, some in varying degrees of undress, some naked, being shown off by proud relatives; others (especially me) question the practice, warning that child sexual predators can see too. Because digital photos are easy to download or copy, typically with just a right click of the mouse, family members, friends, and potential advertisers often take the liberty of sharing these photos via Web. When this occurs, the question Is it safe to post pics of your kids online? often arises. You may be surprised how easily an image of a person can be indexed by search engines, so it remains “forever uploaded” into the cloud.

Potential risks for posting photos of your kids might include:

  • The threat of being targeted by a pedophile or a stalker.
  • Image misappropriation.
  • Copyright infringement.
  • Cyberbulling, among others.

But besides the latent dangers existing in the cyberspace stated before, only few people consider that it may be unsafe for another powerful reason: that parents themselves can be viewed as “suspects”, and even arrested, for taking what they see as “cute pictures” of their kids, whereas police perhaps misinterpret as offensive.

There have been a lot of incidents of parents getting arrested for uploading photos of their children in a state of, shall we say, “compromising behavior”. What's troubling is that, many of the theoretically "incriminating" photos may not raise an alarm for many (if not most) relatives, particularly if they're just bath-time pics or artistic photo-filters. However since most of the charges are eventually dropped, due to the fact context is perfectly understandable after examination, the damage to family’s reputation is done at many levels.

We now live in a culture in which any nude photo, (and many non-nude images also, so be careful), of a child is seen as potentially pornographic. Thanks to new laws, legal decisions that redefined what can constitute child pornography, and hipster-pop culture attention of likely and real sex crimes against children, even innocent pictures of our own kids, are often viewed with “pedophilic scrutiny”.

It has become a necessity to apply the “golden rule”: if the pic dangerously flirts with child abuse, or can be susceptible of being misconstrued as pedophilia, do not take or share such photos.

Below, I enumerate some steps to protect the privacy and safety of the digital pics you want to upload:

1) Always, read the terms of the platform you are using; you might inadvertently grant full access to websites to use your pics for dark-hidden purposes.
2) Keep photos private. Limit access of who can view them.
3) Consider seriously adding a watermark to your photos (Copyright infringement).
4) Try to share pics only with people which are absolutely trustworthy to you.
5) Avoid listing information of the people inside the photo. Skip names, geographical location, or other sensitive data for stalkers.
6) Avoid posting embarrasing photos of your children, although they are not ilegal. Here we have the isolated concern of “Jimmy” growing up (as normal children tend to do). Years from now, Jimmy may be less than delighted about his naked baby photos floating around on the Internet, (even if his tush as a tiny tot was unbearably adorable). Please ask yourself: How would my child feel about this 'immortal' photo in 20 years?

No coherent individual questions the repulsiveness of true child sexual exploitation. But the other day a friend of mine, told me about a birthday photo she found of her little boy. He was riding a horse toy, which was a gift from his father. Her son was naked as well, and laughing so hard, the baby seemed to cry, and when she saw this photo again, after having forgotten taking it, she laughed, too.

Then she started to worry. What if somebody found this? Immediately she clicked the delete button, turning a truly priceless memory into digital garbage. Maybe it was the wiser thing she could ever do.

(Speak with an Internet lawyer in your country for more information on protecting your child digital rights. It is extremely imperative to be familiar with this topics).