That photo of your toddler doing his/her first steps. Well, yes it is super-cute. But it might not be your child’s favorite picture when they turn 13. Considering the relative youth of social media, it is difficult to say exactly how growing up online can affect your child. Still, there might be challenges regarding their privacy, safety, and security. Because by posting a bunch of photos online, we might be leaving children open to bullying. Basically, we might be making them more vulnerable.
Given that study conducted by Nominet, 17% of parents have never checked their Facebook privacy settings. And nearly half (46%) have only checked once or twice. Despite this fact, the study also reveals that the average parent posts more than 200 photos of their kids per year. This means that by the time the kid is five years old, there will be nearly 1,000 photos of them online.
Let’s imagine Mary, she is 18 years old. She is an active Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter user who has been posting pictures on social media, chatting with friends her whole life. A pretty normal person, isn’t she?
But there is one more thing here: much of her digital identity was created long before she opened her own social media accounts. Because, you know, her parents once decided to post a scan of her inside the womb. Then they went on documenting her first steps, words, how she went to school etc. It turns out that one can trace Mary’s whole life online. This could be rather embarrassing for Mary, right? What about privacy, you would ask?
A similar thing happened last year in Austria when an 18-year old teenager decided to sue her parents. She was claiming they had been posting “embarrassing and intimate” baby photos of her on Facebook. Actually, over 500 photos had been posted by her parents online since 2009.
“They knew no shame and no limit – and didn’t care whether it was a picture of me sitting on the toilet or lying naked in my cot – every stage was photographed and then made public.”
Even embarrassing is the fact that despite the girl asking her parents to take down those images, they refused to do so. The teenager’s father, on the other hand, claimed that he had copyright on those photos since it is him who took them. Yet, a question of the right to a personal life arises.
What about online safety?
Austria is not the only country dealing with the consequences of social media oversharing. We all might need to rethink the way we view social media and the way we post personal stuff. Ask yourself, how many times you have posted or seen a photo of a toddler or a kid under five on your newsfeed? How dangerous could this be considering the increasing number of identity theft cases globally?
We know there are fraudulent people out there ready to do terrible things. And we know that we once were more secure when we were not uploading pictures full of identifying features. School uniforms, street names, pictures of pets and their names in the caption can eventually bring fraudsters to your door. Hence, the pleasure of sharing your child’s best moments with your friends should not overshadow the importance of keeping safe on the web. You might not see a threat in posting baby photos on your social media account because you are sure that only your close friends will see them. However, make sure you post stuff your child will approve later on when they get older.