MUMS and dads have been warned not to use photos of their children on Tinder because of fears the youngsters’ pictures could end up in the hands of paedophiles.
A number of single parents are posting snaps of themselves with their kids as they strive to find a match on the dating app.
A Mandurah Tinder user, 35, who asked to remain anonymous, said he fully expected some women his age to have children but did find it a bit strange when youngsters’ photos were posted.
“I’d prefer to find out they have children in their bio,” the man said.
“It’s not a deal-breaker if they post photos with their children. I just ask, why?”
Experts said using the photographs was not only an invasion of the kids’ privacy, it could also unwittingly expose them to online dangers.
Surf Online Safe founder Paul Litherland said predators preyed on vulnerable single parents.
“There have been cases of adults trawling dating sites looking for single mums,” Mr Litherland said. “They then start a relationship with the single mum to get access to the kids.
“You just don’t know how far these things can go.
“You really don’t know who you are interacting with on these sites. Parents need to minimise the risk of children being identified externally.”
Photos of children are allowed on Tinder as long as there is also an adult in the image.
But with the app primarily used to ‘hook up’ with strangers, the use of pictures featuring youngsters is fraught with danger.
The issue of ‘sharenting’, where parents share too much information about their children online, has caused a great deal of concern in recent years.
The increase in social media and dating apps means pictures of kids are being uploaded at increasing rates with little realisation about where these photos can end up.
Crystal Abidin, a digital anthropologist from Curtin University, said parents had to realise people could use the pictures for their own purposes.
“Parents should be aware that images can be reused,” Dr Abidin said.
“If children can be identified in the real world, it only takes a few moments to find out their school and where they live.
“While posting photos of children might be well intended, there is a lack of control with how images might be used once they are online.”
Mr Litherland, a former police officer, pointed out some Tinder profiles were linked to Facebook and Instagram, and that social media provided more avenues for predators to exploit.
Taryn Wren, the executive director of cyber safety education experts YSafe, said parents were potentially taking huge risks posting photos of their kids.
“The danger is when there is someone that is using that platform with intent to cause harm,” Ms Wren said. “But the platforms are not designed to be used in that way.”
She said there were safety concerns with parents sharing photos of children online, but every situation was different.
“You can’t apply a blanket rule, it depends on the specific circumstances,” Ms Wren said.
Dr Abidin said Tinder “can be an erotic marketplace” and children’s faces should be blurred or obscured using age appropriate emojis.
She said there should never be photos of kids posted in school uniform or at well-known locations.
Dr Albin said the children’s rights also had to be considered: “Can they opt-out of their images being used in public?”