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June 28, 2024

The Hidden Risks of Summertime Social Media Use

Social media has become an integral part of your lives, especially during these summer months when kids, parents, grandparents, and friends keep in touch. But it also increases risks to you, your family, and your property.


  • Wait to share vacation photos/information until you return home
  • Communicate with your family about the variety of risks on social media
  • Check the privacy settings on social media apps you and your family use

School is out, summer is here, and your family is excited for some summertime fun—including vacations away from home.

While TikTok, Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, and many other social media apps
and channels have privacy settings or share the premise that posts will “disappear”
after a certain amount of time. Most social platforms cannot guarantee that personal information will not be shared or compromised by experienced hackers, thieves, or predators. In addition, each time you take a photo with your smartphone or camera,
it may store hidden data, such as date, time, and geotags with your current GPS coordinates.

Posting vacation plans and pictures

Your family is thrilled to be taking a summer vacation or visiting family in another state or country and often share memories through pictures and posts on social media apps. While this may seem innocent enough, it’s important to be aware that posting plans and pictures before and during your vacation could increase these risks:

Home Burglary: Posting your vacation plans before you leave or sharing pictures while you’re away informs criminals when your home may be empty. Clever home burglars these days scan social media posts for GPS location tags. Once they see you are away, your home, autos, and other property are at risk of theft. Home burglaries are 11% more common in the summer than at other times due to increased vacations among homeowners and warmer weather.*

Liability: You or a family member could be at a popular tourist attraction, museum, or on private property and innocently take a selfie that also shares some background images. Posting private property without permission can infringe upon privacy and copyright laws. If other people are in the background, it could also lead to legal issues regarding privacy consent/sharing pictures of other individuals without their approval.

Safety: Sharing and posting vacation pictures in real time shows everyone where you are with geotags and GPS locators, which alert criminals and kidnappers to your location. This is particularly concerning for high wealth families who could be at risk for kidnap and ransom situations, in addition to personal theft at your vacation accommodations. 

Children posting while home

Throughout the summer, many children, teens, and even young adults from college will be spending more time at home, and you may hear their “boredom” woes. This often increases social media usage, including gaming online. While these activities can provide opportunities for connection and entertainment, it is important for parents and guardians to be aware of these potential risks associated with their online activities: 

Slander and reputational damage. Children these days are often quick to judge and let the world know about it via social media, yet they lack real-world knowledge of their post’s potential ramifications. Questionable photos and derogatory words not only put a child’s personal character at risk but also could potentially impact their parents’ reputation, relationship with clients, business activity, board affiliations, and more. Plus, your children’s inappropriate posts and pictures on social media can have long-lasting consequences, including impacting their future activities (scholarships for athletics, music, arts, etc.), educational, or employment opportunities.

Personal security. Children may unknowingly share personal information, such as their full name, address, or contact details, on social media platforms. They could even post that they are home alone or share pictures of your home and its high-value contents (large electronics, artwork, jewelry, etc.). This can make them and your lifestyle vulnerable to burglars and kidnappers, as well as online predators, traffickers, and identity thieves.

Cyberbullying. Social media and gaming platforms can be breeding grounds for cyberbullying, where children may experience harassment, threats, or humiliation from their peers. Cyberbullying is one of the more common issues we hear about today. Approximately 15% of children between the ages of 12 and 18** and more than 25% of teens between the ages of 13 and 15 have already been cyberbullied.***

Inappropriate content. Children may come across inappropriate or explicit content while using social media platforms. This can have a negative impact on their mental and emotional well-being. If they share it with friends, it could also expose parents to additional liability risks. 

Any of these risks could be a reason for someone to file a lawsuit—whether frivolous or not—against you or your family. 

Protecting your family

Communication is the most valuable tool to protect your family from social media risks. Overall, it’s important to help your children understand social media risks, their actions, and teach them to be smart about what they say and post online. 

These tips can also help guide your family conversations and minimize the risks many families face when posting or sharing summer vacation plans and other information:

  • Review your privacy settings on all your family’s social media apps. Limit them to trusted friends and family members. 
  • Keep your personal information, such as birth date and address, off your social media profiles.
  • Use private Internet connections. Even while traveling, it’s important to find connections that have secure settings.
  • Disable location tracking or other location data being shared on your devices.
  • Avoid sharing or posting specific travel plans, locations, and dates. It’s fun to share your travel plans, but it’s best to be vague.
  • When sharing content, ensure you have the necessary privacy rights or property permissions and the consent of anyone else in the pictures.
  • Wait until after your vacation to share pictures, minimizing the risk of becoming a target while away.
  • Avoid “tagging” your current location or other people while you’re away—it opens them up to risks as well.
  • Monitor your children's online activities, establish guidelines, use parental controls, and teach them how to handle and report instances of cyberbullying or inappropriate content appearing in their feed.
  • Explain to your children the importance of not sharing pictures of your home, their current status (home alone), or plans to meet up with friends on their social media apps. 

Lastly, arranging proper umbrella or excess liability insurance coverage can help your family avoid significant financial loss due to a potential misstep for many risks.

Schedule an insurance review with an MMA PCS Personal Risk Advisor to learn more about social media liability exposures and to ensure you have the proper insurance protection.

Request Review
*Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice
**U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Facts about Bullying
***Cyberbullying Research Center. Cyberbullying in 2021 by age, gender, sexual orientation, and race