What You Should Know About Posting Photos Of Your Kids Online
In this digital age, it seems almost impossible not to see photos of your friends’ kids blasted all over social media. Parents, it seems, have entered the age of “sharenting” (parents who overshare information about their kids online). From their child’s first word to their first taste of chocolate, or even just that cute thing they did the other day – it appears we’re sharing it all. But one key question we tend to overlook is: how might this impact our kids? And should we partake in the sharenting culture?
To help you tackle these questions, we’ve put together a list of issues to consider when posting photos of your kids online.
We need to consider that every time we share photos of our children online, we are directly contributing to the creation of a digital footprint that cannot be removed. While the photos we post of our children when they’re young might seem harmless, we need to consider how our children might feel about them once they’re older. Will they be happy to have photos of them in the bathtub on the internet? Will potential employers be able to see those photographs? We need to consider that our children might grow to lead public lives or have high-profiled professions whereby sensitive photographs online could be used against them. And even if this isn’t the case, we need to be mindful of how our children might feel about these seemingly harmless images.
Unfortunately, once we post photos online, we lose control over them. We cannot know who has seen the photo, what they are doing with the photo, or whether the photo has been reposted on another website. It is entirely possible that strangers could repost or share photographs of your child(ren), and you might never know about it.
Photo-sharing can also pose real-life dangers. Little details in your photographs can give clues to personal information that strangers should not know. For example, photos of your kids in their school uniforms tell strangers what school they attend. Photos with information such as location tags, photos in front of your house, or photos including landmarks give strangers information about where you might live.
It is also important to consider how the photographs you post online might be used as a tool for bullying when your children attend school. It isn’t difficult for sensitive photographs to become the next hot topic on school grounds.
Issues of consent
Often when we post photos of our kids online, they’re not old enough to understand the implications of the digital footprint we’re creating for them. Young children do not have the ability to disagree with sensitive photographs (such as bath-time snaps) that their parents post of them online. It’s entirely possible then that they might grow older and be upset that the images have been shared.
There are, of course, issues of data privacy when you share content about your children online. Information is valuable to advertisers and data collectors, so posting a photo of your child will identify you as someone who might be interested in kids’ products, for example.
What can you do?
Being conscious of the implications your sharenting might have for your kids is a great first step! Luckily, there are many ways in which we can prevent sharing sensitive information about our kids.
Adjust Your Privacy settings
If you want to share photos of your kids, be sure to check your privacy settings to see just how far your photos are being shared. You can also adjust your “friends” list to ensure that you know and trust everyone you’re sharing these photos with. You might also like to consider simply creating a group chat (on Whatsapp, for example) so you can send photos directly to your family and close-friends without having to post them online. It also pays to understand how geo-tagging can allow information about your location to be attached to photographs, and who can have access to this information.
Ensure that photos are appropriate
When posting photos of your children online, you should always ensure that they are fully dressed. Although bubbly bath-time snaps might be cute to you, unfortunately we need to be careful not to share these photos online in order to avoid them falling into the wrong hands. Secondly, photographs of our children should not give away any clues about where they might live. So, avoid photos of your kids in their school uniforms (even though “first day at school” photos are very cute) and never take photographs that give away your home address (i.e. photographs in front of your house or including street signs etc.).
Once your children are old enough to understand the online world, it is important to ask for their consent before uploading images of them online. You could try sitting down with them and asking them what images they’re comfortable (or not comfortable) with you sharing. Even at a young age, children tend to have an opinion on what they like or dislike. By giving children some authority over the images you share online, you can help them to develop a good understanding of boundary-setting, as well as their right to be respected.
Think about why you’re sharing
It is important to be mindful of why we’re sharing. What is our motivation when we share photos of our children online? When posting photos of your children online, their safety should always be the top priority.
As A Professional
As a professional photographer who shares photographs of families and children online to showcase my work, I always obtain permission from clients prior to any images being shared and I am very mindful of the photographs I use so it won’t impact them in a negative way now and in the future. My aim is that everyone will be proud of the image/s I share and feel chuffed that I have used their portrait. All artwork shared via social media is watermarked with my logo and this is not only for identification but also for protection of the person/people in the photograph, to avoid it being used elsewhere. Privacy of your photographs are paramount and something I take very seriously.
This article is written in collaboration with Babysits - the babysitting community of Australia. If you’re looking for babysitters in Adelaide, be sure to check us out! For more parenting tips, you can also check out our helpful community resources.