By Destiny Alvarez
Today, the digital world rules all. Some people have an overwhelming need to live-tweet their day, to post photos of their food on Instagram stories and of course, share photos of their children.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to show the world your child’s milestones or big events. At first, it seems entirely reasonable to go on Facebook or any other social platform and watch videos of children playing, singing or doing fun activities. Anyone with a social account has probably experienced this. Some people might even know more about a social influencer’s children than their own.
But how much sharing is too much sharing? And when does it put a child in danger?
This type of constant digitally led parenting is called “
In 2018, a popular UK online forum called Mumsnet became overrun with threads targeting influencers for oversharing about their children. A lot of the anger came from people who felt influencers were using their children as a brand to monetize their family and increase their social network. While not everyone has influencer level followers, social posts can be shared and seen by millions of other people without the permission of the user or their children.
A study done by ParentZone found that children in this digital era will be featured in roughly 1,000 photos before they reach age five. The study also found that over 49 percent of the parents who used smartphones to upload photos were not aware that the location data for those photos could be stored and traced on social sites.
In the age of digital permanence, it’s important to think about the implications of sharing your child’s information and photos online. Ultimately the majority of parents who post about their children are doing so without their consent. So the real question is, do parents have a right to post about their children or do children have a legal right to control their digital footprint.
Another study done in 2010 by Business Wire showed that more than 90 percent of 2-year-old’s had an online presence. A digital presence creates an online identity. With a vast amount of
Professor Stacey B. Steinberg, from the University of Florida’s Levin College of Law, examined the legality of a parent’s right to share and a child’s interest in privacy. Steinburg mentioned that a lot of parents don’t share things with malicious intent, but they also don’t consider the longevity and the risk of what they are posting.
“B. Legal and Safety Risks Posed by Parental Oversharing Some parents have found that even just posting a picture could create a privacy risk to their child. One mother, Paris, posted a picture of her daughter on Facebook. She received a like from a user whose name she did not recognize. “The stranger had made the toddler’s image her homepage photo and was presenting Paris’ son as her own child.” Paris is not alone; another mother, Ashley, experienced a similar form of “digital kidnapping.” After posting a picture of her two daughters, Ashley found it was shared by another Facebook page that seemed to share many pictures of little girls. As Ashley looked closer at the link of her children provided on the page, she realized that any of the thousands of followers could not only see the image of her
Sensitive information like real-time location, habits and content can be shared and collected by other people on the web without parents’ permission or knowledge. This puts children at risk for digital kidnapping as well as potential profiling and online or in person targeting. Additionally, future employers or professionals could potentially retrieve sensitive data on children when they enter adulthood. That content can negatively impact them and could have been posted about them without their consent.
Ultimately, there is always going to be a risk when posting on social media. The information you put on the internet will forever be out in the void. Experts like Steinberg suggest rethinking your posts and protecting your children. Parents can start by teaching their children about consent at an early age. Starting at an age even as early as 2-years-old and continuing on through their adulthood. This follows not only moral guidelines but helps parents teach valuable lessons about consent and what should and shouldn’t be posted online.
For more information and tips on
Citation: Stacey B. Steinberg, Sharenting: Children’s Privacy in the Age of Social Media, 66 Emory L.J. 839 (2017)