Durban - All over the country, proud parents and children are sharing pictures of themselves on their first day at school in their school uniforms either at home, or right outside the school premises.

However the Film and Publications Board (FPB) have cautioned parents on the following: 

* The child’s face is all over the internet on social media, this picture can be used by anyone be it for positive or negative use.

*The child’s uniform usually has the name of the school. Therefore, everyone who has access to the image will now know which school the child goes to.

*The user usually does not switch off their location settings or change the privacy settings on their phone. Followers can easily track where the image was taken and go to the exact location.

Abongile Mashele, Acting COO of the FPB, said social media sites are platforms that are accessible to anyone and everyone who has a desktop or a smart phone. 

"Not everyone on social media uses it for the sheer pleasure of uploading content and sharing memories with friends and family. There is a rise of online predators lurking to cause harm to children on social media platforms. Each time you post a picture of your child you could be contributing to your child’s digital footprint.”

 The FPB has compiled a few cack to school safety tips that parents need to take into consideration while they share images and videos of their children online:

* Apply caution when uploading pictures of yourself or your children in school uniform. These may have the name of the school and pose a danger to the child.

*Be careful not to post your home (or school) address, phone number or any personal information online. These can be used to locate your child at any moment.

*Know how to operate the location settings on your phone. The images you upload have a location on them if the settings are not turned off.

*Know how to activate the privacy settings on your social media pages. Images you upload can be accessible to anyone and everyone if your privacy settings are not activated.

* Follow your children on social media and know what they are posting. This allows you to monitor the content they post and advise them accordingly.

* Know the passwords and log in details of your child’s social media handles. Children tend to hide things from parents. It is important to have access to their social media platforms; therefore you will know who they talk to and what they talk about.

*Do not post pictures of other children on your social media platforms without their parents’ consent. This has serious legal ramifications.

*Monitor the amount of time your children spend on social media. Yes, social media can be a great learning tool for your child, but face-to-face interaction is still a vital element in the child’s development and growth.

*Check the content that is in your child’s phone. The applications they have, the games they play and the social media sites they are on. Not all content is appropriate for children.

*Create an honest and open relationship with your child. Be willing to have conversations with your child about the pros and cons of social media. This allows your child to let you know if there are experiencing any form of bullying, grooming or harassment on social media.

*Some social media sites have specific age restrictions for people to use. Familiarize yourself with these so that you do not have an under age child on these platforms.

Mashele added that paramount to the mandate of the FPB is the protection of children. 

"Protecting children under the FP Act is a proportional balancing of the rights afforded in the South African Constitution and Bill of Rights against the right of the child.

"The protection of children as enshrined in the Constitution and Bill of Rights includes physical, mental, emotional, spiritual or moral harm to be protected from maltreatment, neglect, abuse or degradation."

She said it further ensures that children's best interest is of paramount importance in every matter concerning a child.

POST