Facebook and Foster Care Part III: Social Media and Everyone Else
As foster parents, we can control what we post online and monitor our kids’ social media use, but there are so many other people and organizations in our lives that could potentially post our foster kids’ photos or information. I knew we couldn’t share our kids’ photos before I became a foster parent, but I didn’t think about everyone else.
It is important remember to ask family and friends not to post a foster child’s image online. Our friends and family have been very understanding. I know they miss getting to see posts with photos and updates of our little ones, but they also want to keep them safe.
Most of my family and friends don’t live nearby and I want to include them in our lives by sharing photos. When possible, we ask the child’s parents if it’s OK to share photos with friends and family. This isn’t necessarily required, but it shows respect to the kids’ parents and I’ve had some thank me for asking. Every time I send our kids’ photos to someone, I also send a reminder not to share or forward the image to anyone.
You also need to be aware of people posting pictures at events. I recently attended a wedding with our little guy, and when we got there it dawned on me that pretty much everyone was taking photos. These days, it seems like almost every guest at a wedding posts photos to facebook.
I talked to everyone I knew and asked them not to post our little guy’s photo online and to let me know if they saw any photos with him in them. You can adjust facebook privacy settings to have to approve a photo every time you are tagged. Other people can still post photos, but it won’t appear on your timeline until you approve it.
I also talked to the official photographer and ask her not to put our little guy’s image online. Many photographers create online photo albums for weddings and may even use some of the photos for their sample gallery.
In addition to individuals posting on social media, there are many other ways your child’s photo and/or information can end up online. Photo waivers are often standard parts of registration for activities so you need to read registration forms carefully.
I was signing one of my kids up for a YMCA swim class, and when I was completing the online registration, it had a required question giving permission to use any photos taken of the child in their media and publications. Instead of easily signing up online, I had to get in touch with the person in charge and explain the situation. Thankfully, it wasn’t a big deal and our child was able to be a part of the class, but it made things more complicated.
Schools love to post about students on social media and include stories and photos on their websites or in newsletters. It is really simple to do a Google search for a child and find them through school media of some sort. Notify the administration not to post your foster child’s name or photo online.
Nowadays, almost everything you do interfaces with the online world in some way. That means we, as foster parents need to always be vigilant in order to preserve our foster children’s confidentiality.