Are parents oversharing about their kids on social media? Should children give their consent before stuff is shared about them? These are the questions in this week’s A Problem Shared…
Have your say in the comments section below or on our Facebook page.
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My Facebook feed is full of pictures of children that I don’t know. OK that sounds weird, they’re kids of friends of friends. I don’t really know them and yet I’m seeing details of their lives and their children’s lives. I’m seeing them playing, going to school, in the bath. Should I say something? Is it any of my business?
I take cute pictures to share with family and friends on Facebook but I’m more careful with my security settings. My kids are not plastered everywhere. I’m wondering if they know they’re oversharing?
Also I’ve been thinking about embarrassing photos. When I brought a boyfriend round, mum always pulled out the photo albums of me as a little girl with food on my face etc. Every time I died a little inside. I think it’s going to be so much worse for our kids. These pictures are already online for everyone to see rather than in an old dusty album.
Basically, am I over-reacting?
Our FamilyPoint Response
Thanks for getting in touch about the issue of parents sharing pictures and details of their children’s lives on social media. It sounds like you’ve given a lot of thought to ‘sharenting’ (as some people call it). You are mindful about how much and how widely you share images of your own children. You mentioned seeing details of children’s lives, photos of them in different situations (some of which may be of a more intimate nature, e.g. whilst bathing,) and that you feel some parents are possibly ‘oversharing’. This point touches upon children’s right to privacy and, importantly, consent as to what is shared about them on social media. There are also potential safety and/or security issues if what is posted reveals too much information about location.
It might be helpful if we take a look at some of the pros and cons of ‘sharenting’:
- Parents enjoy sharing the delight they take in their babies/children with families and friends
- Sharing details and photos on social media can help to build a stronger sense of family and friendship groups
- Parents feel connected to and supported by each-other through sharing details of their family lives, stories and experiences, and share information and advice on a wide range of issues to do with parenting, health, child-care, resources, education and more
- Young children can not give consent for their images to be shared and this may become an issue for them when they’re older
- Children may be subjected to bullying as a result of things shared about them
- Inappropriate or illegal use of their children’s images. Photos of children posted on social media by parents have ended up on porn sites alongside sexually explicit comments
- Digital kidnapping. Images of children are copied by other social media users who go on to claim that they are their children
I think it is fair to say that some parents may not have thought about the potential downside to sharing images and details about their children on social media, whilst others may have but still feel comfortable about doing so. One parent I know commented that images of children are everywhere anyway, and that she only allows close friends and family access to them. Then there are parents who have decided not to share anything relating to their children on social media, partly, they say, out of respect to their children’s right to privacy and consent, and partly due to discomfort about the potential misuse of the images.
A quick search of the internet will reveal a growing number of discussions, studies and even proposals to limit what can be shared online about children without their consent. It’s interesting to note that parents are encouraged to monitor their children’s use of social media yet often fail to reflect this in their own use. This is in stark contrast to children and young people who are twice as likely as their parents to say that permission should be given before posting anything about them online.
With regards to your question about whether you should say something to your friends, you could think about posting articles, like the above, on your social media pages. This would allow them to have a look at the arguments for and against ‘sharenting’ in their own time, and without feeling pressured into doing so.
Check your privacy settings
Whatever parents decide to do, it’s always a good idea to review your security settings. Here are some privacy settings tips for some of the top social media platforms:
- Facebook Privacy Basics
- Instagram Privacy Settings
- Twitter – Protecting and unprotecting your Tweets
- WhatsApp – How do I configure my privacy settings
- Snapchat – Change your privacy settings
If you would like further information on national or local support services, then you can contact us at FamilyPoint Cymru via phone 0300 222 57 57, text 07860 052 905, or IM/Chat. We are open Monday to Friday 9am-5pm.
I hope this advice has been helpful. Good luck.
The FamilyPoint Cymru Team
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