The current generation of children are the most photographed and publicly shared generation of children ever.
A study shows that before the age of two, over 80 percent of children already have a digital footprint, thanks to their parents.
So if you’re pregnant with your first child, and in the process of picking names and colours for the nursery, add this extremely important question to the top of the list.
Do I want to create a detailed digital identity for my child, initially without their consent? And if I do, what should I consider before I share their lives online?
Ask yourself these nine questions before you post:
1. Is this moment too intimate?
This definition changes for each person, and could be considered for anything from a sleeping child to a child in the bath or on the potty.
2. If my child was to see this photo in a few years, what would they say?
If you’re not sure, then ask this question. If my parents had shared my baby photo album with 700 of their friends, which images would I have been embarrassed about?
3. What sentiment am I sharing about my child?
Is it uplifting, encouraging and loving? Or does it inadvertently shame them and belittle them? Remember that it’s not just about the photo you’re posting, it’s also about the comment attached.
4. Who will see this photo? Do I really want all my ‘friends’ to see it?
Keep in mind that when sharing a photo on Instagram, you can select to share the same post via other networks like Facebook and Twitter. Make sure you’re aware of the privacy settings on each replicated post, don’t assume it’s the same as your Instagram settings. Also, it’s worth asking yourself whether your ‘Facebook friends’ are really your friends. Perhaps it’s time to do a friend cull.
5. Will the content or sentiment of this photo mean my child is teased, even if it’s years down the track?
Sometimes we assume that when we share a photo of our child, we’re only sharing the photo with our mum friends. But the chances of our mum friends’ children seeing the content we post are high, and therefore it’s not unlikely that if you post an embarrassing photo of your kid dressed up in a silly outfit, that their school friends will see it, and possibly tease them.
6. Does this photo reveal any personal information about my child and our family?
This includes details like where you live (even a photo of the front of your house can be revealing), where your child goes to school or daycare, his or her nap times, regular outings that you attend … It’s all a matter of common sense, but it’s easy to slip up in your excitement to share about your upcoming holiday or where you’re on your way to that day.
Remember, every piece of personal information you put up online can be pieced together to make a digital picture of your identity. This can be used to steal your identity, or rob your house while you’re on holiday, for example. Scary stuff.
7. Does this photo reveal any personal medical information?
It may be okay to share that your son has a cold, but should you publicly share that he has had diarrhoea? Probably not.
8. What is my child wearing in the photo?
Even if I don’t consider my son’s ‘nappy-off’ time sexual in the slightest, am I sure that it’s appropriate to share on the internet, even if I place a ‘gold star’ or other cute cartoon over his private parts to censor it? That’s something you and your child’s father need to decide.
9. Will this post affect my child’s future employment opportunities or ability to make friends and attend social engagements?
It’s becoming a very common practice for potential employers to trawl through a job candidate’s digital persona before an interview. Do you really want that photo of your daughter running around the yard in her undies online when they do?