In March, France’s National Assembly passed a law that could prevent parents from sharing photos and videos of their kids online. The proposed law will go into effect if it passes through the Senate and is signed by the president.
This legislation is among the first of its kind, and begs the question — SHOULD parents post images of their children online? Since the advent of social media, parents have started sharing more and more content featuring their kids on platforms like Facebook and Instagram.
The increased connectivity that the internet brings us is a huge positive for parents who want to keep their friends and extended family in the loop about their kids’ development and exciting new milestones — but the internet is also loaded with risks of potentially devastating harms such as identity theft, exploitation, and abuse.
Before posting any photos or videos of their children online, parents should ask themselves the following three questions —
- How might they feel about this image of themselves when they’re older?
Sharing big moments from your child’s life and early development can be a great way to keep loved ones updated about your family. However, if the photo you’d like to share might be embarrassing to them when they get older, you might want to keep it private. As adorable as we might find those silly or light-hearted moments with our kids, it can make them feel exposed or exploited to have their personal memories shared without their permission.
- Could this image be viewed as inappropriate?
Even your sweetest baby bath time photos can be potentially exploited if they fall into the wrong hands. A dark reality of the internet is that child sexual abuse materials are pervasive and often found by predators on parents’ very own accounts. Any media depicting your child’s exposed body, including bath time, getting dressed, or on the potty should be kept off the internet.
- Is there any personal or identifying information in the image?
Any information that could be used to identify or track down your child should be kept off the internet. This includes full names, addresses, where they go to school, or where they might be at any given time (if they’re spending the afternoon at a local coffee shop, for example).
As you share moments from you and your family’s lives online, the most important thing to remember is to try to model the online behavior you’d like to eventually see from your children — including sharing appropriate content and asking for consent to post images of others.