Consumer Reports: Safeguarding children's digital privacy

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Consumer Reports explains how you can safeguard your child's digital security while still having the freedom to share what's important to you. (WLS)

If you love sharing pictures of your child on social media, you're not alone. But there can be consequences beyond bombarding friends with cute photos: You may be putting your child's privacy at risk.

Consumer Reports explains how you can safeguard your child's digital security while still having the freedom to share what's important to you.

Artist and motivational speaker Rosie Jon never shies away from posting her artwork to social media.

"It's a really good tool for me to reach as many people as I can, whether they are able-bodied or not," Jon said.

But when it comes to her three young children, Rosie takes a different approach.

"I have an eight-year-old son who's old enough to understand his own privacy, so if it's a picture of him, I always check with him and ask him "are you happy for mommy to share this?" Jon said.

Along with respecting your child's privacy, you should also be concerned about their digital identity. Child identity theft is a real threat, and Consumer Reports says our culture of digital over sharing is likely to blame.

"Seemingly harmless information like your child's name, their age, what they look like, where they go to school, all of that information can be used to create a profile, that a hacker can use down the road for identity theft," said Consumer Reports Privacy Editor Bree Fowler.

Consumer Reports says follow these digital parenting tips: First, tighten up the privacy settings on the sites you use. You can set your Facebook posts to go to just your "friends," rather than the entire public.

And limit your circle of friends even more by creating a list of "close friends."

Another option is a closed Facebook group, which requires you to approve everyone who requests access.

Always use caution before sharing a picture of a child's actual location, anything that could reveal hints of your home or their school.

And be careful about sharing pictures of your kids in any state of undress.

"Even a very innocent photo of your kid naked in the bathtub, might kind of haunt them down the road since nothing on the internet truly goes away," Fowler said.

As for Rosie Jon, she will continue to share, but with purpose.

"Every post has to be intentional. So just like my artwork, I make sure that each posting has a purpose and has a meaning," Jon said.

Another thing to think about, wait until you get home before posting any vacation photos. You don't want to reveal to any would-be burglars that you're away from home.

All Consumer Reports material Copyright 2017 Consumer Reports, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Consumer Reports is a not-for-profit organization which accepts no advertising. It has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site. For more information visit consumerreports.org

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