INDIANAPOLIS, Ind (Sept. 23, 2015)-- Police in central Indiana have a warning for parents in this digital age: protect what you are posting online about your kids. Investigators believe increasing numbers of photos on social media could follow your children throughout their lives and make them a target for thieves.
With three girls, Janelle Browne has her hands full.
"It's busy. It's chaotic. It's a little dramatic," she said, "They love to talk."
Like many moms, she uses Facebook to keep loved ones in the know.
"We're not from here. Our family is from all over. So, I mean it's the easiest way to keep in touch with people the quickest," she said.
But what's easiest and quickest may not be safest.
"In the United States, 92 percent of two-year-olds already have an online footprint, meaning they already have online information about themselves up and on social media on the Internet," said Lieutenant Chuck Cohen, Commander, Cybercrime and Investigative Technologies Section, of Indiana State Police.
That statistic, Cohen said, is why parents must pay attention. He said parents may be unknowingly putting their children at risk.
"Often time photos of children, images of children, from sports from camp from other activities, those images can be used by others. So, we've seen a wide range of activity, ranging from individuals that take those images of a child and portray that child as their own, to other kinds of uses of that," Cohen said.
Cohen said uploaded images can carry data with them, like the latitude and longitude of where you took a picture, for example, your home or even your child's school. Cohen advises that parents limit access to their social media accounts or restrict how many images they post.
"There's a lot of this information that can be misused, and I think it's a recognition that people have to realize, that a lot of their private information is not really that private," said Greg Zoeller, Indiana Attorney General.
Zoeller said there's another way parents can protect their children - by freezing their credit. The attorney general said child identity theft in the state is increasing. In 2014, lawmakers approved a measure allowing parents to freeze credit of their children, for safety's sake.
"It's a simple process, and it would last well into the child's adulthood. So, by the time they want to establish any kind of credit, you've protected them against any kind of scam artist," said Zoeller.
For busy mom Janelle Browne, it comes as another reminder that you've got to take action in the digital age to safeguard your children online.
"I'm going to go home and check my privacy settings and my friends and clear out anyone that I haven't talked to in a long time," she said.
Cohen said putting a photo on social media nowadays is like putting anything up on a bulletin board at a local mall; you just never know who might see it.
For more information on the credit freeze for children, you can visit the Indiana Attorney General's office by clicking here.