‘Sharenting’ can lead to your kid’s identity being stolen

(AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Have you heard of sharenting? It’s a term coined to describe the overuse of social media by parents.

A lot of moms and dads do it. In fact, 92 percent of kids under the age of two already have a digital footprint. One third of mothers, ages 18 to 34, created social media accounts for their baby before the child’s first birthday.

Posting your child’s name, date of birth, the mother’s maiden name, and location is enough information to open a credit card or bank account.

More than 140,000 children are victims of identity theft each year, and many won’t learn that their identity has been stolen until years later, when they apply for a credit card or loan.

Consumer Reports suggests taking these measures to protect children:

  • Be aware of privacy settings on the sites you use, and set them to only share with close family and friends. Doing so, however, still isn’t a guarantee that what you post won’t get shared with a broader audience.
  • Avoid posting in real time, and never include a location/geotag
  • Don’t include your child’s full name and birthday in posts
  • Also, security experts warn that photos of children can be copied and shared on websites targeted to pedophiles.

Consider setting up a Google alert for your child’s name. You’ll be notified if your kid’s name appears online. Here’s how to set up a Google Alert. You don’t need to have a Gmail account to use this.

  1. Go to http://www.google.com/alerts/
  2. Sign in to your Gmail account, if you have one. If you don’t, simply fill out the Google Alert form.
  3. Enter the search terms you want the Google Alert to track, separated by commas.
  4. Choose the type of results you want Google Alerts to find and share with you. Select “everything” for all content online.
  5. Choose how often you’d like to receive your Google Alerts.
  6. Choose how many results you want to get.
  7. Choose where you’d like the Google Alerts delivered.
  8. Click the Create Alert button and finish.