by Colin Anson
We tell our kids ‘it is good to share’ but when we are talking about digital and social media, this is not always the case.
From sharing the first day of school to key moments at high school, many don’t consider the potential risks or breach of future privacy. And it’s not just parents who are doing the sharing – schools, grandparents, other parents, the soccer club, local café, and kids gymnastics class, just to name a few – are all sharing photos of children on their websites and social media accounts. And we need to start talking about it.
Although children are now ‘born digital’, exposure in the online world can present more risk than in the physical one. The reality is that images and identifying details can be used for numerous activities that put your child at risk, from paedophilia and stalking, to cyberbullying, identity theft, and even digital and physical kidnapping.
So, what can parents do?
While there is no ‘right’ or perfect answer, we can always ‘think privacy-first’ before posting images online. We need to not be afraid to talk to our friends and family (as well as schools and organisations our children are involved with) about what we are happy to have shared of ourselves or our children.
Lead by example
Check with other parents, even if they are family, before posting and sharing images of their children. You might be fine with your child’s photo being posted, but the parents of their friend who is next to them in the photo might not be. By doing this, you will encourage others to ask permission themselves.
Start a conversation about how you feel about images of your child being shared. Communicate any concerns to friends, family, and your child’s school, to ensure they understand the risks and are less likely to expose images of your child to outsiders.
Create a circle of trust, where everyone clearly understands each other’s preferences of what can, or cannot, be shared in the public domain – and only share images of their children within that circle. Remember to also check your social media permissions and privacy settings and remind others to do so too.
If photos are already posted, it’s impossible to get Facebook or Instagram to simply take them down, let alone delete them. So, speak to the person who shared the image by:
- Simply asking them to remove it, or at least hide your child’s face
- If they want to keep the photo online and are happy to edit out your child’s face, ask them not to tag your child’s name or share location data
- Or, you can always suggest another channel such as a private photo-sharing platform (like pixevety) that allows them to easily and safely share with friends & family
Privacy, once lost, is incredibly hard to regain. If you have a privacy-first mentality when dealing with your children’s digital footprint and speak up about it, it can reduce a lot of the risks associated with image sharing. It will also set your child up for a healthier relationship with technology when they are old enough to protect themselves.
About Colin Anson, CEO and co-founder of image protection platform, pixevety
Colin Anson is a digital entrepreneur, and the CEO and co-founder of child image protection and photo storage solution, pixevety.
In 2012, Colin saw an opportunity to create a unique business within his area of passion, photography. He witnessed first-hand the potential risks and harm the mismanagement of photos can have on children. And he became an advocate for protecting every parent’s right to determine how their child’s photo is used, and protecting every child’s right to safety and digital privacy. After learning of the minefield of privacy laws and the daily stress for schools in managing and sharing the photos of every single student, Colin decided to do something about it. And pixevety was born.