Many of us have a presence on social media, whether it’s to keep in touch with friends and family or simply to share snippets of day-to-day life
And once we have kids, many tend to share more. This phenomena, also known as sharenting, has been receiving a lot of attention over the past few years as a sensitive area that warrants discussion. There are both pros and cons to the practice of sharing photos on social media, but ultimately it comes down to finding a healthy middle ground.
To Share or Not to Share
The two main concerns that continue to surface in this discussion is the privacy of children – especially with the fact that breaching this can put children at risk – and the concept of consent and control over a child’s individual online and social identity.
The main problem is a lack of understanding of how public information may be. Most people never change the default privacy settings on their Facebook account or other social platforms, and therefore everything they post remains public. However, even when the settings are changed, information posted is still not as private as you think, and certainly not free of data mining operations.
Aside from privacy settings, some parents post photos and information about their children online that unknowingly includes identifying information that could leave them at risk. Photos often include time and location stamps, and sometimes locational information like a school name – not to mention any “check in” functions that tell the whole network where you are at that very moment. By posting locational information and even identifying information, like your child’s full name, you put them at risk of being sought out by child predators. Even something as simple as not including their names on your Facebook account, or choosing a name for your website or blog that is ambiguous and doesn’t contain your family name are simple preventative measures. There are many other measures that you can also take to protect your children’s photos online, so educate yourself and implement them to reduce any risk.
When it comes to consent, a major part of the problem is that kids don’t really have much of a say of what their parents post. Some of this content can potentially really embarrass them later on in life. Your child is your child, but he or she is still a separate human being with a right to privacy and self-identity. Before posting anything, you should consider how your child might feel about it later on down the road. Anything that could mar the identity they want to create for themselves or something that could leave them susceptible to bullying should never be posted online. The general rule of thumb is to stay away from posting any photos that:
- Display an embarrassing moment
- Are revealing or display nudity (e.g. bath time or potty photos)
- Include landmarks so that people can figure out where the child is
- Photos identifying fears or weaknesses or show them sick or injured
- And avoid posting any group shots without consent from other parents
In the end, there is nothing wrong with taking family photos and documenting your lives together. The problem presents itself when those private moments are made public without consent or without taking the necessary precautions. So, if you do post, do so while keeping the best interests of your child in mind.