Should Parents and Teachers Share Images of Our Children on Social Media

With the proliferation of the Internet and smart phones with cameras, it is now so easy to record special moments and share them with the world. With a click of a button, we can snap photos of our children playing in our beautiful compounds and share them in an instant on Facebook, WhatsApp or any other social media platform! Their first day in school, a visit to the Grandparents, a moment in a popular restaurant or even a particularly funny moment when they were dancing at a birthday party! With these modern communication tools, we can share the joy with friends and relatives etc. But should we?

I must start by confessing that I am guilty of sharing children’s photos and my children’s friends’ photos and I got tremendous joy out of sharing them in the past. Now however, as I see more and more parents and teachers do it; and as I become more aware of threats that lurk in the online community, I am more inclined towards not sharing.

Firstly, you don’t really know who exactly you are sharing the photos of your children with neither do you know how they will use them. The photos we share with “friends” end up leaking to friends of friends, none of whose character we can guarantee. How would you feel for example if your child’s photo ended up on someone’s website claiming that your child is one of the children they support in a fake orphanage! Crooks are real online and we are inadvertently gifting them with photos of our children to use as they please!

In addition, all social media platforms have terms and conditions regarding ownership of the content we users post. Unfortunately, few of us care to read these terms and conditions. You might be shocked to learn that some of the platforms indicate that content shared on them becomes the property of the platform. We also know that those terms and conditions tend to be fluid and change without consulting the users! Who knows what changes will be enacted in the future regarding the use of our children’s photos and videos!

Moreover, the privacy of our children is compromised. Today, there are sophisticated computer programs that can scan the internet and piece together a full story of someone from posts that have been made of him/her; and the people they associate with. Wrong elements can begin to target our children with propaganda based on information they have about them. Crooks are likely to know children’s interests, the place they frequent, estimate your level of income etc. Such elements may even be able to steal children’s identity and use it to cone other people or for extortion! Some may even be able to kidnap our children or pretend to be friends with you (the parent) to target the child!

Finally, we are creating a digital record that will stay forever and in which our children had no say! As children grow, their circumstances change. There are moments that are blissful to us today but which our child may not want to associate with in future with changed roles and image. For instance, I have seen many unflattering photos of children shared – in oversized school uniforms or having lunch on plastic plates or playing in the sand, bare chested and wearing some torn sandals! Such images, a child may not want to identify with in future! However, having shared the child’s photos and created such a digital story, it may be extremely difficult or even impossible to shake off that image. Wouldn’t be responsible of us as elders today if we erred on the side of caution to protect our children and those in our care and give them a chance to select the moments that they would want to share with the world when they grow up?

Though it gives us great pleasure seeing our children featured and while I am not aware of any law against it, I am convinced that it is not a wise choice to share photos, videos or other images of our children or children under our care online because our children’s privacy is compromised yet predators lurk in cyber-world, and moreover we deny them the chance to tell their story as they would want it told when they are of age! If we must do share, it should be with great moderation and careful analysis of the pros and cons.

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Kalema Golooba Ayub