Parents Warned About Sharing Popular Back-to-School Photos on Social Media

Photo: (Photo : CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images)

It's been a tradition for many American families to take back-to-school photos of their children. With the popularity of social media, many parents are also excited to share these images on their profiles. However, a cybersecurity professional has cautioned moms and dads not to overshare their kids' details on the internet.

Cathy Pedrayes' important advice to parents that she posted on TikTok has gone viral for a good reason. With many families eager to post back-to-school chalkboard photos, Pedrayes said that it's not bad if the board says, "First Day of School."

However, Pedrayes pointed out that some boards also include other personal details like the name of the child's teacher or their favorite activities in school. The experts cautioned parents that these are likely not the details they would want strangers on the internet to know about their sons or daughters.

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In an interview with Today, Pedrayes said she decided to make the short clip because she has seen this trend year after year. Many parents don't realize they are already oversharing "extra vulnerable information" on social media, which cybercriminals could use.

She also advised against posting photos of the kids in their uniform and backpacks or an image where they're standing next to a clear house number or a car license plate. Pedrayes said that celebrity Kim Kardashian, who has her own bodyguards, was robbed in France because the criminals took note of the details of her room, which she posted on social media.

@cathypedrayes For parents #backtoschool #safety #cyber #advice #psa #momlife #tips ♬ The Hustle - Van McCoy

Online Predators Abound

According to the Child Crime Prevention and Safety Center, at least 500,000 active online predators are scouring the internet for victims each day. These predators are into internet pornography, sex trafficking, cyberbullying, and other dangerous activities.

While parents may not have intended to put too much information about their kids online, Donna Rice Hughes of Enough is Enough, a group focused on raising awareness for child dignity on the internet, said that it's still best to act on the side of caution. Hughes reminded parents to be mindful of what they share "at all times" and share the "bare minimum" to prevent any private information from getting to people with malicious intentions.

Additionally, Pedrayes said that even if moms or dads share their children's very detailed back-to-school photos to a private profile, there are still some risks. Someone could hack into the account and find the private photos, or someone in the parents' circles could take a screenshot of the posts. The expert said that majority of child kidnapping victims had been taken by people they are familiar with.

Cybercriminals Target Schools

Amid talks of security on the internet, the Center for Internet Security (CIS) said that they are expecting an 86 percent increase in cybercriminal activities aimed at K-12 school systems this school year. Josh Moulin, the company's director of operations, said that schools have always been high on the target for criminals to gain ransom money, but they could be more vulnerable because of the possibility of remote learning or hybrid in-person and online classes.

Last year, cyberattacks against schools increased by 57 percent. Moulin said that schools dependent on technology would have to ensure that their IT infrastructure is robust from cyber attacks so that the users, mostly children, will be protected.

CIS has been working with various K-12 school districts across the U.S. Ordinarily, these strategies require more planning and scrutiny before the local government approves it, but the pandemic has expedited its implementation.

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