With the increase of the social media frenzy, our lives and behaviours have changed significantly. Almost all of us have a Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or Snapchat account. Using it on a daily basis either to get our news, communicate with friends, promote events, or share photos and experiences. In short: to connect with the world. And isn’t it just amazing to gather hundreds of likes for a single post? It truly makes you feel like a star for a day!
But, what about when it comes to children?
Do you actually know who is looking at the photos you share and how far these photos reach on the net? As parents, before making the decision to post anything related to our children on social media. Always consider both risks and benefits. It is clearly understandable how childcare providers have an even higher responsibility for this. Since their decision to post online can impact directly the tens or hundreds of children in their care.
Let’s have a look at the good and the bad aspects of social media sharing from the perspective of childcare centers, hoping to give you an overview for future consideration.
Social media – The friend
Social media is our best friend when it comes to sharing useful information. Such as articles relating to early childhood education, health and nutrition or raising awareness about certain child, family and community resources. The available “comment” sections allow people to further discuss the ideas you present, exchange useful tips or give examples from their own lives.
It can also be used as a tool for communicating with parents. Here you can promote upcoming events or request parents’ feedback on certain ideas. You may also want to share lessons plans, meal schedules or cute photos from your latest activity. Thus, allow parents to see how well the kids are doing. But be aware that in this case, social media can be a treacherous “friend”, as some risks may appear. When it comes to sharing on platforms such as Facebook or Twitter, privacy is key!
Photos, for instance, can only be posted with the permission of the parent. Only in private groups, where the access is carefully controlled. Bear in mind that even under these circumstances, security on social media platforms is never 100% guaranteed!
It’s also worth pointing out that social media is a great marketing tool. Your target group (mothers of young kids) incorporates some of the most active users of social media. They simply love it and they spend a lot of time on it! Thus, having this in mind, you can use it to promote your programs, offers or the amazing new technologies you are using in your center that differentiates you from the rest. And if mothers find the information useful, they will definitely share it with others thus spreading the word among their friends with similar interests.
Social media – The foe
Using social media is easy, fast and apparently free of charge. But are you aware of the actual cost of using it as a sharing and informational tool for your childcare center? While you don’t pay for it with money, you might actually pay with something that is much more precious: privacy. And it’s a risk that not only puts you in danger but all those children that you have in your care.
Therefore, it’s important to be aware that social media is not only your friend, but it can become one of your biggest foes! We have identified some risks in reference to using social media as an informational and photo sharing tool.
Do you know what happens to a photo once you post it on social media? Having children’s private information or photos “out there” puts them at high risks both at present and in the future. It is still very difficult to control who actually has access to them and they are never permanently removed from servers even if you delete them. So please be aware that there is still a great uncertainty regarding the depths of digital footprints.
Another risk is digital kidnapping. If the photos you share land on the wrong hands, you are putting the children’s identities at risk. Several situations have been reported where strangers were stealing kids’ online photos and re-sharing them as if the children were their own.
Be aware of online bullying!
This also relates to the uncertainty of who might have access to the photos you post. They can be stolen and turned into targets for cruel jokes and cyber bullying. An example is a notorious Facebook group where members were making fun of “ugly children”.
Posting photos and live videos on social media also indirectly gives away information about these children’s whereabouts at the time of posting. Which is highly risky, as kidnapping is an extremely serious and actual problem.
Moreover, your presence on social media makes you prone to being indirectly impacted by risky behaviours from employees or clients. Which can lead to the image of your centre being associated with professional misconduct. For instance, your employees could be posting materials that portray them in an unprofessional and controversial way. Your own clients or even your competitors posing as clients may post negative comments online about you or your centre. Always be alert and try to avoid this as much as possible, at least by imposing very strict rules when it comes to your social media presence.
In conclusion, social media is tricky, but if used properly it can be a great friend. If you want to avoid all the fuss and headaches it can bring, you do have alternatives.
Why not limit the use of Facebook, Instagram or Twitter to their tremendous marketing benefits. Resort to a much safer tool for communicating with parents and sharing precious information?
This is one of the reasons ChildDiary was created: to provide a completely secure, controlled and easy to use learning journal for childcare providers.
These are just a few of its many benefits. There are no risks – other than you instantly falling in love with it!