Tuesday, January 3, 2017
Parents, We Need To Be Cautious Of What We Post Of Our Kids Online
Oversharing is a big deal. How much is too much?
When was the last time you snapped a photo of your adorable two-year-old daughter, cousin or niece and quickly posted it to Instagram?
Perhaps they were staging their first ever handstand or were sleeping so soundly that you just couldn't help yourself.
Our kids are the ones who are up on social media from the day they're born.
Have you considered how they will feel when they're all grown up?
"The documentation of our children and how much we are making that public is a huge issue that Australians are embracing -- and facing," Leanne Orlando, researcher in technology and learning at Western Sydney University told The Huffington Post Australia.
"It's just what we do these days. We take photos of our kids and put them up on social media."
But how much is too much?
Orlando has been conducting research to fill the gaps surrounding both children's and parents' use of technology and how it impacts on family life.
"We hear a lot of hype and negative commentary around kid's usage and what I'm finding is a very ground-up, cold-face understanding of that," Orlando said.
I think we are all still learners in all of this -- we just started at different points and at different ages.
"When it comes to parents, they are equally active. But consideration of the longer term implications of their online behaviour is only just starting to hit us now."
Over-sharing is the new norm
As technology has become synonomous with daily life, we have morphed into a society of over sharers -- in Australia and across the globe.
A recent study from the UK found that, on average, parents post nearly 200 photos of their under-fives each year. That's approximately 1,000 photos before their fifth birthday.
"Our kids are the ones who are up on social media before they're even born," Orlando said.
We can't just put anything up about our kids because it is a part of family life.
And according to Orlando, this is reflective of Australian parents.
"It's absolutely a new norm. I haven't come across a parent who hasn't been immersed in it -- to different degrees of course (some are more enthusiastic than others)," Orlando said.
"And they are not posting every photo. They are probably thousands of shots of their children that have been put elsewhere."
How are you carving your child's digital identity?
Creating digital identities and reputations
Orlando believes this new norm has a perhaps understated power in moulding a child's digital identity beyond their control.
"We need to think about online behaviour -- and protecting our children's safety online --more extensively. The sort of reputation that parents are building on their child's behalf is a really important consideration now," Orlando said.
"We can't just put anything up about our kids because it is a part of family life. We need to be thinking about how we are showing off our daughter or son in a particular way."
Is it a legal matter?
The French government has taken this discussion one step further. After warning parents to cease posting images of their children on social media earlier in the year, a privacy law has been introduced that sees parents facing up to one year in jail and a fine of $64,500 if convicted of publicising intimate details of their children without their consent.
It is a wake up call for other countries, including Australia, to think about policies, practices and possibly new laws that would require a child's consent.
"The thinking behind this law is that parents are responsible for protecting their kid's privacy. If they are posting details about the child or family life without that child's consent, they are actually invading their privacy," Orlando said.
And whilst this is not legalised in Australia, Orlando sees France's move as a precedence.
"It is a wake up call for other countries, including Australia, to think about policies, practices and possibly new laws that would require a child's consent."
Parents' behaviour online can mould that of their children.
How and where to draw the line
Given the youth of social media, this is a tricky area to navigate. And whilst it is unpractical to be gaining consent from a six-month old, Orlando recommends veering on the side of caution.
"Think before posting and ask yourself whether what you're about to put on social media is in the best interests of your child long term," Orlando said.
"Any photos of them having a tantrum, for example, are probably not best to be shared with your family and friends on social media."
Consider getting your kids involved.
It might work to ask them to choose a couple of photos that they like. I think you have to respect that.
"This doesn't have to be a huge event. It might be a matter of telling them when you're going to take a photo and upload it onto Facebook -- or asking whether they're okay with that," Orlando said.
"Or it might work to ask them to choose a couple of photos that they like. I think you have to respect that."
For Orlando, this provides an avenue for parents to teach their children about digital etiquette from a young age.
"It's important to help them to understand that you do need to be respectful of people's images and information as it appears online. This is a natural and organic way of doing that."