Almost every parent I know loves to take a photo of their child/ren. Almost all these photos end up shared on social media. There should be nothing wrong with that. Ultimately the decision of whether or not posting children photos on social media – especially our child/ren is up to us. And let’s be real, with social media being a norm nowadays, there are many, many parents along with their child/ren who are completely OK with it at all.
Social media sharing or what many now refers to as sharenting is great in so many ways. I have been part of several “mom groups” and I have seen many who have received help through these sharing and posting. But we have also heard the dark side to social media. Definitely, this is nothing we want to be involving our children in.
One of the greatest concerns is that of digital harvesting of kids’ images on predator sites. It has been suggested that 50 percent of images shared on pedophile sites have been taken from parents’ social media sites. We lose full control of where our kids’ photos end up when we share them online. We can be particular of our privacy settings and some friends in our circle are not. What we share may still be found in ways we do not actually prefer.
Here are a few things worth remembering when you post children photos online:
When my daughter was much younger, I had all the say to what I share. Then, slowly, I engaged her into the idea of it. I would ask her if it was OK to say this story or photo. I would also tell her why I felt like sharing it. I often tell her my reactions to it too. Sometimes, she disagrees with the reaction; someone found it funny and for her it was not at all funny. Of course, we had to talk about it more lengthily especially if it gave her strong feelings like getting upset. But through it she learned people have different opinions. Most importantly, she learned that her opinion and permission to things related to herself matters.
Fast forward to today… She tells me whether or not photos and videos of her and her school activities can be shared. In fact she told me recently that asking her permission was the first rule to consider in taking photos or videos of a person. She said it was her face of the video and hence should have a say on whether or not it can be posted.
In Bisaya we’d say: “Tagam”. What I have taught ricocheted on me! LOL!!!
But that I find that good. My daughter has understood the concept of ‘permission to post’. She is aware of online etiquette.
So, do involve your child/ren on the decision of whether or not you should post and share as soon as they have an understanding of the concept of sharing. In the same way, we may want to consider other parents’ preference on sharing. So, before you tag them, let them know that you will tag them. Or don’t get offended if they remove your tag of them or of their children. If the children are too young, involve another adult with direct responsibility for the child, such as your spouse, partner, their parent or guardian. It’s not your face anyway. It is theirs or their children. Respect.
2. Child’s Personal Identity and Security Information
Now, this is something I have been guilty of! It’s pretty common sense if you will think about it. But most parents (me too) still give away information as to the child’s full name by mistake and excitement. Often when we are eager to share photos of our child/ren’s accomplishments in school. So, we gave away our children’s full name and their school too.
We may shrug it off as it may seem trivial. We may also say, who is going to be interested other than you and your family. Then again, there are online stalkers too. There are identify theft nowadays. An extra dose of caution won’t hurt us and our children. Sharing children photos may seem common sense. But common sense can be overtaken by all the excitement and emotions at times.
3. Child’s Personal Privacy
Personal Privacy? Yes, our children’s body need to be private. As it may seem cute to post a photo of children without their clothes running around the yard, it exposes the child unwittingly. Even the photos of them taking a bath. Also some seeming innocent photos which shows their genitals. This is an easy way of teaching our children that their private parts are deemed private for a reason. Let us keep in mind that digital content can be easily copied. It can be easily distributed. Those photos falling on the wrong hands is just not worth the risk. Often, these photos are totally innocent, but the reality is that there are crazy minds out there.
4. Child’s Feelings
Let us consider how our child/ren will feel about these photos too. Our children are not forever young children and these photos may serve as a footprints they leave behind. Would they feel all right seeing these with friends years from now? Is it something that will make them proud or embarrassed?
In as much as we avoid posting a picture of us while we are having a hard time, let’s avoid posting our child/ren’s photo sans their tantrums or embarrassing moment. Just as we are not always amused when we get laughed at, our child/ren also have their own idea of what is funny. We may think it is not harmful but you do not own their emotions. And these emotions will go flying around once they reach puberty. Let’s take into consideration how they will feel about the photo and caption. Posting children photos and giving captions to it should be well though off and considered.
It is of course important that we teach our child/ren that life is not perfect. We want to teach our children to be open to the vulnerabilities of life too. We want them to be real. Mostly, social media is not real. We want our children to see the difference. So, let’s create a balance for them. There are imperfections that does not need to be publicized. As not all perfection should be, either.
We are posting children photos; who sees these photos? To whom are we sharing? Is the platform safe?
Whenever we are posting children photos (our children’s photos) it is our choice. We can be told once, twice or as many times. In the end, it is our choice. It is our responsibility. And like all other responsibilities, we may not always be mindful of the consequences. We cannot be all too cautious either and miss the joy in life. But we must be ready and accountable for whatever outcome our posting children photos will have.
We can be very careful with our privacy settings. Our family and friends may not be as careful. In this world of digital technology and digital manipulations; we must be mindful. We can be as cautious as we need to be. We can be vigilant. Then, our children may not be. Nowadays, children have access to these photos too and they know sharing altogether. Let’s teach them to practice as much caution, vigilance and mindfulness too.