Posting pictures of your kids on social media may seem like nothing more than innocent family fun — siblings in a bubble bath, a birthday party, a soccer tournament win – but the resulting emotional and mental trauma may not be worth the digital likes. The negative side of posting about your kids online all boils down to a breach in privacy.
In 2017, a law was proposed in France that prevents people from posting pictures of others without receiving expressed permission, and anyone found guilty could face a fine of $48,000. The law was inspired by several instances wherein ex-lovers posted embarrassing photos of one another online to get revenge. While all these cases involved adults, authorities soon realized that children are among the most vulnerable members of society, and that well-meaning parents are often unable to see why it's dangerous to post pictures of their kids online.
Parents Posting Pics Risk Exposing Their Children To Bullying
A report by the children’s commissioner for England, titled Life In Likes, asked 32 children around the country about how social media impacts their daily lives. The findings revealed that between the ages of 11-18. children become far more concerned about online validation through likes, comments, and approval from friends. Any personal photos that haven't been approved by the pictured child could leave them open to ridicule and humiliation.
The children’s commissioner, Anne Longfield said:
“While social media clearly provides some great benefits to children, it is also exposing them to significant risks... I want to see children living healthy digital lives. That means parents engaging more with what their children are doing online. Just because a child has learnt the safety messages at primary school does not mean they are prepared for all the challenges that social media will present.”
A Digital Footprint Can Last A Lifetime
Photos that seem cute when a child is three or four could come back to haunt them when they are older. In an attempt to combat a phenomenon known as “sharenting” (or parents sharing photos of their kids), children’s rights advocates believe that kids should have a say in what information is shared about them. Bullying is a huge problem, but it's also important to consider identity theft, as an easily accessible digital history can potentially leave the door open for cyber-criminals later in life.
Stacey Steinberg, a legal skills professor at the University of Florida Levin College of Law, and Bahareh Keith, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Florida College of Medicine, cited a study published in 2016, wherein 249 families were questioned about internet privacy practices. When asked whether there should be rules regulating what parents can share online, kids were far more concerned about their privacy than adults.
Sweet Family Photos Can Attract Skeezy Predators
In 2015, the Australian government conducted a survey, and discovered millions of photos found on websites set up to showcase inappropriate images of children were re-purposed from social media. Senior investigator at the eSafety Commissioner, Toby Dagg, said that on one site contained at least 45 million images, and that "about half the material appeared to be sourced directly from social media”. By simply adding a caption to accompany the photo, a "cute" image can become a sexual object for predators.
Parents were shocked to discover how wide-spread this practice is. A 2013 investigation uncovered one site with about 100 images of children doing seemingly innocuous things like playing and opening presents. Within 10 days of being uploaded, the content had been viewed 1.7 million times, and explicit comments abounded.
Friends And Family May Not Appreciate Being Tagged In Your Kids' Photos
The Guardian ran a story in 2014 about a mother who posted a photo of her newborn baby lying beside her friend’s baby. They were born a month apart, and the older baby was taller than the younger one. Her caption read, “What a difference a month makes.” While this may seem innocent, the friend had yet to publicly announce the birth of her baby, and wasn't ready to share with the world. Some of her online contacts didn’t even know she was pregnant, let alone a new mother.
Posting pics of other people’s kids — no matter how mild the context — can always pose problems if you don’t have both the parents' and their child’s permission.