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Mobile Safety Canadian Center for Child Protection
Know the Risks

Losing control of photos/material

Mobile phones can impart a feeling of privacy for children/adolescents—they're able to communicate with friends without parents or other friends hanging around. However, that feeling of privacy is an illusion. It's easy for a supposedly safe friend to forward personal information, photos, videos, or anything else to anyone they choose.

Once a photo, video or message is sent by mobile phone, the user can never regain total control of the content.

How could children/adolescents lose control of material they send from their mobile phone?

  • Material could be copied or taken from a mobile phone if the Bluetooth function is on and unlocked
  • Material could be shared by a child/adolescent's friend
  • Material could accidentally be sent to someone they don't know
  • Photos/videos sent from a mobile phone could be posted online. Photo-sharing websites (e.g. Flickr, Photobucket), online video sites (e.g. YouTube, Google video) and social networking sites (Facebook, Twitter) make reproducing and distributing photos/video sent from mobile phones extremely easy
  • Photos could be posted in a public forum such a school for everyone to view

Case Study
A nude image of a young girl was reproduced 800,000 times over an 18 month period on a popular peer-to-peer network.

What can parents do?

  • Stress to your child/adolescent that s/he shouldn't share personal information with anyone via his/her mobile phone
  • Emphasize that your child/adolescent to never share photos/video by mobile phone and provide case examples that demonstrate why this is a concern
  • Encourage your child/adolescent to update their social networking sites from the home computer vs. a mobile phone. Talk to the mobile phone provider about options for minimizing risk: disabling web browsing, choosing a phone without a camera, etc.

For more on what parents can do to reduce the chance of their child/adolescent losing control of sent material, click here.

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