The past decade has witnessed a style of parenting dominated by technology more than ever before. From baby monitors and kid’s music on tablets to smartphones and social media. But is sharing your children’s photos on social media now a given, or a step too far?
In an article for The Guardian, Linda Geddes writes about a personal incident that made her rethink the issue. “Most people who have a relationship with a child will have posted, or thought about posting something about them on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. But is it safe, or even ethical to publish something about someone who can’t give their consent? Could these innocent snapshots someday come back and bite our children on the behind?”
At Daddy’s Digest, we’re always keen to ask questions that spark conversations about these dilemmas. We took to the streets of Chennai in India to ask men, both fathers and non-fathers whether they share, or would share their kid’s photos on social media?
Close to 60% of the men said they wouldn’t share their children’s photos online. Some stressed the fact that it wasn’t fair to upload photos of anyone, young or old on social media unless they too were active on the social channel in question. Issues of privacy and consent become grey areas, especially when it comes to our most precious belongings. Even on seemingly safer spaces, such as family groups on Whatsapp, many declared that they were hesitant to share their children’s photos lest they find their way into the wrong hands.
Naveen, a thirty something without children,said that he doesn’t believe it is a good idea to share anything kid related on digital. “The content you share may be in safe hands today, but it isn’t maintained by any government body, it’s all private. It could fall into the wrong hands at any time. You’re also restricting their character or identity in the eyes of others to what you share about them.”
The idea of restricting a child’s character because of a few harmless photos online may sound absurd, but the backlash may already be in motion. An Austrian teenager reportedly sued her parents for photos they posted of her online as a baby. In France, posting a photo of someone – including your own children – without their consent can be fined up to €45,000.
Often with grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends living too far away to regularly see the little ones, social media becomes a bridge to connect children to their extended global families and form bonds, albeit virtually. Karthik, a father of a four-year-old told DD that while he does share his son’s photos online with friends and family, he tries to limit their spread by controlling his privacy settings.
Ashwin, 22, isn’t concerned. He says he has faith in the security features on websites like Facebook when it comes to sharing his future child’s images. “I would share photos of my kid. Most of my generation would say the same. This is because as adults today who have grown up with technology, we know how to take care of ourselves, and who to connect with to keep things safe”.
His friend Harish however, had a different view on the matter, stressing the highly addictive nature and reward seeking behavior that social media websites encourage, “I don’t think sharing a child’s photo is appropriate. I feel parents become more motivated to share their children’s photos to get likes rather than spend time with them and forge bonds.”
Concerns about privacy and child protection involving shared images on social media are valid for any parent or guardian. The general consensus is to think twice and evaluate both our values and children’s safety before tapping that ‘share’ button.