To All Parents Who Can’t Stop Posting About Their Kids

To All Parents Who Can't Stop Posting About Their Kids
  • Parents post on average of 1300 photos and videos of their kids by the time their children are 13.
  • Kids can’t give true consent.
  • It can have unforeseen negative effects on their future.

Back in the ’80s, my dad picked up his first camera.

He had to learn how to physically develop film back in the day to have photos of the rest of our family and me so that he could share them with our friends and relatives. He could’ve had it developed at a photo store, but we didn’t live close to one, so that was his solution.

Like most kids, I did not enjoy being in front of the camera as much as my parents enjoyed being behind it.

I shudder to think about how many more embarrassing photos of me would’ve circulated among my relatives if things were digital. I’m sure that each time I got a good grade or learned a new skill, he would’ve made sure my relatives heard about it too.

It was his way of expressing love, documenting my childhood and sharing it with others.

He was and still is a proud dad.

We post 1300 Photos and Videos of our Kids by the Time They’re 13

It feels great to be able to share achievements and cute moments of our kids easily. It’s almost a primal instinct. I want to too, but I’ve grown wary of it.

It’s difficult to fully grasp the real costs of sharing our children’s lives online especially if repercussions are weeks or years down the line.

A report by the Office of the Children’s Commissioner, “Who Knows What About Me?” revealed that kids will on average have 1300 photos and videos of themselves online by the time they’re 13.  Note that this is report was done in the UK, but given that we’re usually on-par or ahead of the UK when it comes to embracing social media, this number is likely to be higher here.

1300 photos in 13 years. That is around 100 a year, which doesn’t seem all too bad until you realize a few crucial things:

1. Kids are too young to understand and give consent.

A teenager is suing her parents over embarrassing photos her parents posted of her over the last seven years. She says that it has violated her personal privacy.

2. Kids can’t fully understand that these photos and videos can and do follow them for the rest of their lives.

Kids can’t go back and hit undo on their digital footprints. We live in a world where it’s a real possibility that kids will face later disadvantages at school and at work because of what their parents once shared of them online.

Simone Vibert, the author of the report, says that “More and more information is collected about all of us as we navigate today’s digital world. But the difference for children is that their data footprints extend from birth, documenting their earliest experiences – both good and bad.”

“A child’s personal information should not be used in a way that leads to them facing disadvantage as an adult, yet that is a possibility we are facing.”

3. It puts our kids at a higher risk than other kids.

It can make your child a more desirable target for predators since their information is easier to come by.

Even on the less nefarious end, it let’s creepy people creep about your children more easily.

Case in point: This woman dealt with a man pretending to be the parent of her child in forums online.

4. We’re already sharing more about ourselves and our kids than we want to.

Data collection comes in many forms we don’t think about, from digital data schools collect about our children to trusted smart home devices like Alexa/Echo and Google Home.

Think about this:

Everything you say to Alexa is recorded and stored on servers. Think about how many times Alexa has accidentally woken up while you were having conversations with other people.

Those bits of conversations are recorded and kept in a log.

I have a feeling that most of us don’t regularly go delete these and that most of us don’t even know how.

5. Digital protection can’t keep up with the pace of technology.

Facebook data breaches, Phishing emails, Hackers selling our data and passwords. Loopholes.

Rolled out in 2018, the EU standardized data protection by imposing strict rules on processing personally identifiable information (GDPR). It also allows EU residents to be able to access and delete the data collected by outside agencies.

Unfortunately, we don’t have this in North America. We’re in a gray zone. This means that there are fewer protections in place for our kids and us online.

So let’s all be mindful of what and how we share of our kids. It’s a good idea to consider everything you post about your kids will likely be read by them, their future spouses and potential employers.

Keep kids safe and don’t reveal what you don’t have to about them.

Here are some tips to keep in mind when sharing images and videos of your kids:

  • Make sure there isn’t anything identifiable. No school emblems, signs, road names or clubs that your kid is part of.
  • Turn off geolocation on your phone so that your location isn’t broadcasted on your social media accounts.
  • Don’t post pictures showing body parts that are usually covered by clothes.
  • Always ask a child’s parents before posting photos that their child is in.
  • Set your profiles to private so that only friends and family can view what you post.

Tips for sharing about your children if you’re a blogger with public social media profiles:

  • Use pseudonyms for your children.
  • When uncertain about a post, ask your spouse or a trusted third party to give you feedback on it. See if they think it is too private or if they notice that there’s identifying information in it which might put your kids at risk.
  • Consider not posting any photos with close-ups showing your children’s faces.

What do you think, how do you keep child’s identity safe online? 

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