I’m not a big sharer online but I do love popping up a few pics of an important family milestone on Facebook. Whether it’s a child starting a new school, an amazing family holiday or a hilarious birthday pic, sharing family snaps online is a great way to keep your friends and family up to date with what’s going on in your world. But I’m the first to admit that this can be a risky business!!
The Lure of Likes
It appears that the validation (and dopamine hit) we receive from posting online clouds our rational brain. New research by McAfee has shown that Aussie parents are continuing to regularly post pics of their kids online and choosing to ignore their own concerns. In fact, 30% of parents post a pic a week of their children online, and 40% of parents happily include an image of their kids in school uniform in their regular posts. And this is despite 50% of parents being concerned by the risks associated with posting online including pedophilia, stalking, kidnapping and cyberbullying.
What Are The Risks We Should Consider When Posting Pictures of Our Kids Online?
The research shows that Aussie parents seem to understand the ‘physical’ or security risks associated with posting pics of our kids online but don’t always factor in the ‘emotional’ or psychological ones. Out of the 1000 parents who were surveyed, around half nominated the physical risks of exposure to pedophiles, cyberbullying, stalking or cyberbullying as being their prime concern.
However, far less of us were concerned about the ‘emotional’ risks of posting pics of our kids online.
- Only 28% of parents were concerned that posting an image of their child could lead to worry or anxiety.
- Just under 30% of us considered that their child could be embarrassed by images they share but decide to post them anyway!
But we need to take this a whole lot more seriously as it appears what we post can cause our kids anxiety. A survey from British research agency ComRes shows that more than 1 in 4 kids between 10 and 12 feel embarrassed, anxious or worried when their parents post pictures of them online. Interestingly, it appears more mums consider the embarrassment factor than dads with 35% of dads assuming their children will get over or not care about embarrassing content compared to just 24% of mums.
Do We Need Consent To Post Pics Of Our Kids Online?
Legally, I don’t believe we require the consent of our children before posting pics of them online however we need to tread carefully here! If you are interested in maintaining a good relationship with your kids and you post images without checking with them first, you need to rethink your approach. But many aren’t! 60% of the parents we surveyed do not consult their kids before posting an image of them online and, almost 40% believe they have the right to share images of their kids online without their consent.
I believe trust & respect are fundamental ingredients in successful family relationships. The research clearly shows that many children feel anxious when their parent post pics of them online. Asking your child for consent before you post demonstrates to them that you respect their opinion and take their feelings seriously.
When Should I Start Asking My Child For Consent?
There is always much debate around this one and clearly it depends on the maturity level of the child. Parents we surveyed suggested that when a child is 10 they should be asked for their consent before their parents post pics of them online.
I believe you should start weaving it in to conversations even earlier as it is a great way of modelling good digital citizenship. When your child is mature enough to understand what you are doing and has the relevant vocabulary, you could try something as simple as: ‘mummy would like to post this lovely picture of you with nana. Do you think it’s a good idea?’.
And posting cute nudie baby pics is not OK in any online scenario. Even if you are sharing photos to your private social media account, there is still a risk that it could end up in the wrong hands. The overwhelming majority (82%) of Aussie parents stated that they haven’t or would never share an image of their child without clothes on over social media which is very reassuring!
How To Share Safely
Here are my tips on how you can share pics of your offspring safely online:
Lock Down Privacy Settings
Only share photos and other social media posts with your intended audience. Services like Facebook and Instagram have features that allow posts to be shared only with confirmed connections, but everything posted on a social network should be treated as if it’s public.
Set Ground Rules with Friends & Family
Be clear with friends and family about your expectations when they post images of your kids. If you are uncomfortable with anything they post, you are well within your rights to ask them to remove it. Ideally, they should ask you (or your child) before they post it. Remember your job is to protect your child from embarrassment, anxiety or even potential cyberbullying.
Don’t Forget About Your Child’s Digital Reputation
Everything that is posted about someone forms part of their digital reputation. We all want our kids to have bright futures filled with opportunity. So, always consider whether what you are considering posting could negatively impact this. And encourage your teens to regularly check the posts and images they are tagged in online too. Whether they are after a job at Coles, a prefect position at school or their dream career job, a negative digital reputation can have far reaching consequences.
Watch Out For Geo-Tagging
Many social networks will tag a user’s location when a photo is uploaded. Parents should ensure this feature is turned off to avoid having their child’s location shared. This is especially important when posting photos away from home.
Ask For Consent But Be Prepared For Your Child To Say NO
Asking for an older child’s consent before you post pics is essential but be prepared for them to say NO! Remember, a good relationship is built on trust and respect!
So, don’t stress – you don’t need to close your social media accounts, but you may need to pull your activity back a little. Take a minute to check in with your tweens and teens before posting pics of them and, ensure what you post is appropriate and shared only with your intended audience. And if you’re still craving a dopamine hit with your reduced posting regime, why not listen to music, exercise or even meditate – research shows it can be just as effective!