In a time where Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram dominate most of our lives, it's not uncommon to see the media savvy parents of today share photos of their children on their personal profiles
This is especially true if you have friends with kids. ;)
In addition, you might have noticed that some parents have created unique hashtags based on their children's names to accompany public photos of their kids
These hashtags are usually made up of their kids' first name, surname, initial, pet name, or a combo of the aforementioned. For example, #babysamuel, #sophielim, #chloeg, #danielandmummy etc.
There's a perfectly understandable reason why parents are doing so. For one, having a unique hashtag could serve as a sort of one-stop time capsule to document your child's journey from the very day they were born
Similarly to wedding day hashtags, parents can click on a hashtag and see all the photos they've shared of their kids in one place.
This way of cataloguing means you no longer have to carry around photo albums or send bulky e-mails with photo attachments to your family and friends. All they have to do is search for the unique hashtag you've created for your kids!
In fact, your child can even look through their baby and childhood pics with a simple hashtag search!
BUT if your family and friends can easily search for the hashtag and access photos, that means ANYONE can do the same... even more so if your profile and/or photos are set to 'Public'
While it's kinda cute to have your child's name turned into a hashtag, keep in mind that hashtags are easily searchable on most social media platforms. This means the photos you've openly shared on Facebook and Instagram - whether it's of your children, your personal or professional life - are easily accessible to anyone, even more so if your profile or account are set to 'Public'.
Worst case scenario, these photos could potentially be used by criminals such as paedophiles and child traffickers to track down your child, especially if they include info such as tagged locations, your child's birth dates and interests, etc.
True, one would need to know the exact wording of your unique hashtag to have access to your child's photos, but it's not difficult to stumble upon a unique hashtag when it's accompanied by more generic ones such as #momlife, #blessed, #familytime etc.
So, should you create a hashtag based on your kids' names?
Ultimately, it's your prerogative as a parent to make a decision, as the line between fearing for your children's safety and wanting to share your pride and love for your family on social media is a thin one.
You can always take steps to make sure photos of your kids are not publicly accessible to strangers. For instance, change the privacy settings on your Facebook profile and posts from 'Public' to 'Friends' only. Most importantly, it's time to do some housekeeping for your friends and followers list by removing those you don't personally.
After all, there is indeed a cause for concern on your kids' presence in social media, especially with people like Richard Huckle on the prowl for helpless children: