Should I post photos of my children online? Here’s what new parents need to know about sharing

Over 40% of UK parents upload photos or videos of their children. Showing how widespread online sharing is now, in June 2022 the word ‘sharing’ entered the Oxford English dictionary, meaning when a parent shares news, pictures and videos of their children. on social media.

Parents engage in sharing for many reasons: because they are proud of their children and want to tell family and friends about their children’s milestones and daily lives; ask for help and offer advice to other parents; and to store memories. It can also be a source of income. Influencers can earn substantial sums through brand partnerships when they share their family life online.

Decisions about whether, where and how much to share pose a dilemma for many parents. New parents may find themselves faced with an uncomfortable paradox: they know that sharing can have implications for the lives of their children. privacybut find social media to be an important source of support and connection with other first-time parents.

Some parents may think they don’t really have a choice. Increasingly, parents are encouraged to share through third parties. This includes family, friends, schools, community, media and major brands.

Further research is still needed to confirm exactly how share impact on children and their privacy. However, sharing seems to pose certain risks. Some parents stopped sharing after discovering that their children’s photos had become the target of predators.

The researchers also found that it is relatively easy for third parties to obtain photographs, names and birth dates of children through parents’ Facebook and Instagram posts and link this information to other online sources. and offline to create detailed profiles. The new parents plan to post a birth announcement on social media should keep in mind that sharing this information may put their child at risk of identity theft.

Many popular social media providers collect and share information with each other. The information shared may be collected by other companies, who monetize this information, profile children and their families, use their interests and tastes to target marketing.

What to keep in mind

There are ways to share on social media safer. You can turn off geotagging on your smartphone’s camera app so that location data isn’t associated with photos. Another option is to review privacy settings and limit who can see your posts. On Instagram, for example, adult accounts are set to public by default. Set your account to private if you want your information only available to your followers.

You can also consider using one of the many private social networks, designed for families who don’t want to share information beyond a select group of people.

Children’s images and information are increasingly shared not only by parents, but also by family members, friends and schools. New parents may find it helpful to think about how they want their children to be represented on social media and to have conversations with friends and family about how their children’s information will be shared online before their child birth. This can avoid a conflict at a later stage.

It’s also worth thinking about the impact your posts might have in the future. babies and toddlers cannot tell you what they think of your posts. As a privacy officer, you should therefore consider how your posts might affect them.

When you share your children’s information online, you create your child’s digital identity, a digital footprint that will follow your child for life.

Determine if your child will want their friends or future employers to see the information you shared about them as a baby. As teens begin to develop their own identities, they may become particularly concerned about their privacy and how the way they are portrayed online can affect their friendships and relationships.

Avoid information that is too revealing or private, or that might upset or embarrass your child in the future, such as potty training, tantrums, naked or semi-clothed pictures, and pictures that children might consider as making them unattractive.

The children in the photos

Some research has been done to study what young people think about sharing. Some say it can be positive, if they are well represented and the content supports a positive image online or identify. Some children say the messages from their parents make them happy and proud, while others love that it helps them connect with the extended family. A child of a parent who blogged online about his family said it could be “pretty cool…like having a big family of people who watched me grow up.” Some children, however, suggest that sharing can cause embarrassment and anxiety. Many want their parents to ask their permission before posting. Even one who didn’t think sharing had a negative impact on them said it could mean “a different kind of growth” and it wasn’t something they would do as a parents.

Once you feel your child is old enough to express a point of view, talk to them. Finding out what your child does and doesn’t want you to post can avoid irritation, frustrationmisunderstandings and conflicts.

Explain who you want to share information with and why. The NSPCC’s Online Family Agreement, which invites parents and children to agree on a strategy before posting information online, could be used to start conversations about sharing at an early age.

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