Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat – the list of social networking platforms appear to be growing longer every day and so do the alarming headlines about cyber-bullying, sexting and other forms of online harassments. The ever-increasing presence of kids on social media is certainly a topic of concern. However, did you know that even ‘sharenting’ is among the 21st century challenges that parents need to be aware of? Sharenting is a new term that describes parents sharing information, pictures and videos of their kids online.
While you might think that a cute snap of your toddler running around in a playground may hardly be of any harm, the French government thinks otherwise. Under France’s online privacy laws, parents can face penalties of up to a year in prison and a fine of €45,000 ($46,456) if convicted of publicising intimate details of their children without their consent.
A new study by Nominet revealed that average parent posts over 200 photos of their children every year, although the majority don’t check privacy settings regularly. The research conducted by the Parent Zone on behalf of Nominet, polled 2,000 parents on the ways in which they share images of children online, as well as testing them on their knowledge of the information that is captured when taking pictures on different devices. Despite 70 per cent of parents claiming their main gadget for taking photos was a smartphone, fewer than half were aware that location data showing where photos were taken could be stored.
“We all love to share those precious moments in our children’s lives with friends and family and sites like Facebook have made it easier than ever,” commented Nominet CEO, Russell Haworth.
“While the web helps relatives to keep in touch and participate in our everyday lives, it also has the potential to lead to accidental over-sharing. It is important to ensure that the correct privacy settings are in place to safeguard our personal information and content. Parents are creating a large digital footprint for their child from a young age, and the right settings are important if you want to stay in control,” he added.
This way, many children will have a powerful digital identity created by someone else. The same research even goes on to suggest that parents often neglect the feels of others while posting photos online. A quarter (25 per cent) confess to never asking the permission of the people in photos before posting them and over half (53 per cent) have uploaded a photos of a child that wasn’t their own.
University of Michigan recently conducted a survey with 249 parent-children pairs in US to investigate family technology rules and perceptions of those rules from both parent’s and children’s perspectives. The results indicated that families in US struggle with common challenges around technology use. Children find it difficult to comply with requests to disconnect, parents share more information online than their children are comfortable with and the most salient concern among both parents and children is the desire for all family members, regardless of age, to pay attention to one another when in one another’s company.
Asking your child’s consent is believed to be a part of the issue and also a part of the solution. This approach makes it easier for the kids to understand digital etiquette.