Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, Twitter, WhatsApp, Discord… it seems that as the internet continues to grow, it is becoming more and more focused on the sharing of photos. In addition to this, as the smartphones in our pockets continue to have better and better cameras built into them, all of us are becoming photojournalists with almost every moment of our lives being published to a potentially international audience.
This, in turn, creates a minefield for parents and young people to navigate that is something that today’s parents (like me), largely missed while we grew up. While our children will likely be far better at parenting through this issue because of growing up through it, we need to think a little harder and be a little more deliberate in our approach to this selfie and photo saturated world.
Taking photos of your children create great opportunities, not only to capture memories but also to teach them about consent and respect online. It gives us as parents the opportunity to have a conversation about why we would want to share their photos and also to talk about where the photos will go and what the potential consequences are. By having these conversations often and early, we can help children and young people develop an awareness of some of the strengths and pitfalls of having their images online. As we model the courtesy of asking before we share their image online, we also need to model not sharing if our children say “no”. While this can be frustrating hopefully, this will become part of the way our children approach online images so that they can be a little more careful about the way they share their own or their friends images online.
The Office of the eSafety Commissioner recommends the following steps that you can take to reduce the possibility of exposure to harm.
1. Avoid sharing photos and videos that contain personal details, such as full names, personal contact information, or uniforms that identify location.
2. Avoid adding comments to photos that identify locations, e.g. street address, the name of the school your child is attending, or even identifying features in front of your home.
3. Only share with people who you really know and trust. Rather than posting to all of your friends on social media, be selective and use the privacy settings on your social media platform. Also, be aware that if one of your friends likes your picture, it may also become visible to their friends. If you’re not comfortable with this, you might reconsider how you share your child’s image.
4. Always check with other parents before posting and sharing images which include their children.
5. Be mindful of metadata—most digital photos contain information about the time, date and GPS coordinates of where the photo was taken. Some social media platforms automatically hide or remove this data, so do your homework and know how much info you’re sharing.
For more helpful information about the digital environment and how to help your child have safe and enjoyable online experiences visit iParent.
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