Most parents share photographs or videos of their children online with the simple intention to share their joy or an event with their family and friends. We highlight some of the possible dangers and negative effects of posting photos and videos of your child online.

Social media

#1 You Are Creating A Profile Of What The Child Seemingly Is To Others

Your photos, descriptions and comments acquired, all pool and build up a trail of your child’s personality and ‘growth’ online. The general group of friends and family may well be delighted to be part of this daily news and to be involved in your family life. But based on settings, the same or even multiple-fold more people can also be involved bearing in mind the permutation effect. Others may not know you or your child personally, but they can make their own interpretations or own assumptions.

In a bad scenario, comments have even been posted by total strangers on other parents’ facebook about how their child may have behavioral issues based on the anecdotes they observed online. The child is denied having a chance of being really known by who he or she really is. Some already had their “digital portfolio” cut out for them at birth.

#2 There Is A Cost To Bear

We cannot control what others think, but why subject you or your next time grown up child to unnecessary judgments or projection from others? Does your child even want to know years later that the diaper dances he shared with you were seen by your colleague’s cousin or used for other purposes? Privacy is a cost and there are much more dire costs than that; identity erosion, shame, stigmatization etc.

According to a September 2014 article in The Guardian, “Right now, Facebook and other sites use the personal data they collect to help advertisers reach their target market; it is how they make money. But that business model could change, and new tools are being developed to capture personal information all the time.” There is a future risk involved. What is shared now can be used against us.

#3 Consider The Ethics

Always pause when you are posting photos of OTHER children. There is a difference between taking a picture in a zoo with throngs of children versus posting pictures of your friend’s children. The worst is posting your friend’s birth online on your way out from visiting the ward – let the new parents share their own news. Secondly, consider the age of consent of the children. Toddlers in their young age have the ability to say – “Don’t want” “Don’t take”. Do we respect what they are able to verbalise, or do we dismiss them?

What to avoid posting online

Couple watching movie

a. Intimate photos

Bath pictures, naked photos, compromising photos of your children should not be posted. What you won’t go out in, keep private. Yes they may seem cute to you, but the digital world is not as innocent as it looks. Children’s modesty should still be protected, at this age when they are not able to, we as the parents should be cautious and protect them.

Just because they are not physically developed, does not mean that their bodies can be shown all around. When posting, consider not just your own interpretation, but the impact or how it may be misused by others. There are pedophiles out there and people who can copy or edit the pictures shared. Note that once your information is out there, it is not yours anymore. Period.

b. Photos which reveal personal details

Some photos are tagged with family members, geographical locations and detailed-filled descriptions. Why is there such a need to? By simply tracing tags, one can easily look up the family, the schools, the places your child frequent after school etc… the things he/she likes, the achievements, the down moments. People can map out a lot from online data. Probably 95% of your friends’ and their friends won’t do that. But all you need is just 1-2 creepy fellows, isn’t that the truth?

c. Keep the blood and gore to yourself

Believe me, I have seen postings of gory placentas fresh after birth and postings about toilet poop. The principle to hold – what is or was once inside of you, should not be made public. Enough said. There are parents who post pictures of nappy rash in forums for discussion. I cannot help but cringe how this child would feel. It may be “medical” but still, it is your child’s body, in a forum subject to comments by others.

d. Photographs of other children

This point cannot be emphasized enough. There is quite a considerable group of parents who do not post much of their children online. A father once shared with me that he does not post any photos of their four children online intentionally – they share photos through email etc. It was a deliberate effort not to distribute access online.

Some others limit their “view settings” for photographs and pictures. However, experts point out that even if privacy settings are customized, this does not stop others from uploading pictures of your children. So please have some consideration. Before you post a photograph of other’s children, consider if permission is needed and if it is necessary.

At the end of the day – before you click remember “What you share out there, is no longer yours”.

By Som Yew Ya.

This article was first published in The New Age Parents e-magazine.

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