Our children are not social media trophies. Here’s how to protect their privacy

Our children are not social media trophies. Here’s how to protect their privacy

Did you know that 30% of parents publish at least one photo or video a day of their child on social networks? This is the latest flooring data from a recent study called "The Age of Consent," conducted in the US by the multinational IT company McAfee.

Moreover, according to this research, many of them post either videos or images even more than once a day. Many of the parents involved in the study recognize the dangers of showing images of minors to the public (pedophilia, stalking, cyber-bullying), but this does not always affect their behavior. Indeed 58% of them do not even consider this their problem, wondering if the child agrees or not with the online publication of their image.

It almost seems that the "temptation to share" washes away all fear.

Anxiety to appear

Social networks can be used as tools for sharing, or they can become "showcases" in which to perform, to satiate a little of that narcissistic thirst that sometimes arises in each of us.

So, often with our profiles, we don't just want to share our news with friends and family who love us, but we want others to see how beautiful, lucky, and fulfilled we are.

We have previously spoken about this and much more in an article in which we exposed the so-called 7 Deadly Sins of Social Networks.

What we ask ourselves now, however, is: what happens if even minors, especially our children, are sucked into the vortex of our narcissism. If it is true that we adults, free to govern ourselves, can post photos of ourselves on digital platforms without any particular restrictions, how should we behave in dealing with the desire to share the photos of our children?

Respect of privacy is a child’s right: the first people who must respect this are the parents

The world of media has transformed each of us into a small broadcasting station. Every day we publish more and more content concerning our private life and those of our loved ones. But are we really aware of this? McAfee's research, in this regard, emphasizes that parents may not be fully aware of and practical about privacy issues, even less if it concerns their own children. Many of them easily admit to including personal information about their children in their online posts. For example, half of the parents interviewed admit to having or wanting to share a photo of their child behind their desk at school, despite the risk of exposing personal information. However, it is comforting to see that the majority of parents, 70%, share photos of children only on private social media accounts. This is certainly a good first step, but there is still a lot of improvement parents must make in protecting the identity of their children.

Here is where we need some rules. Above all: no one can publish the photo of someone else on a public platform without explicit prior consent.

And what about the photos of our children?

It is known that when dealing with minors, newspapers, televisions and any other means in which images can be distributed, they must adhere to specific regulations that safeguard privacy.

Even in the realm of social media, children are recognized as having the right to privacy, but parents are responsible for this right, because, especially if the baby is an infant or very young, he or she is unable to give or deny consent for the publication. However, it is doubtful that there is no real awareness on the part of parents of what great responsibility awaits them in managing their children's sensitive data.

In this regard, we report a fairly worrisome fact: McAfee's research reveals that 22% of parents do not believe that their children should have "a say in the management of their images." For many adults, the choice to publish a photo of the child belongs only to the father and mother. And only 19%, almost one in five parents, worries about "generating anxiety or emotional distress" to the child in this way, that is exposing him, without his consent, in a public social profile.

This raises the suspicion that parents sometimes abuse their right to manage the child's privacy and that they do not always protect their interests.

All this leads us to extend an invitation: let’s protect the images of our children; let’s try to be their guardians. We care about their protection more than their performance. Because children are not trophies.

The second invitation: let’s respect the will of our children. Even if they are minors, they have the right to "have their say" when it comes to their own face.

The danger of child pornography is real

Beyond the embarrassment that a parent can cause within the child by continually sharing his photos, there are dangers related to the circulation of photos on the web of which it is good to know the entity.

Social media has distorted the concept of public and private: they make us live together with the illusion that what we post remains only in our circle of acquaintances. It is not so. The Internet is a black hole: what comes in never goes back out. And no one knows where it ends up. Indeed, often, unfortunately, we know very well.

The web is not used only by people who peacefully post photos of their vacations or the most pleasant moments spent with friends.

There is also an obscure network, a network of exploitation and perversion and – without becoming alarmists – we must recognize that malicious people may not be so far away from us and our inner circle.

And in fact, when we put photographs online, we lose control of them. An article published on the Huffpost raises our attention to the fact that "about half of the photographs of minors published on the net end up in the wrong hands." It is a terrifying fact that anyway must make us understand the weight of this responsibility.

The third and final invitation we feel to share is: dust off the old and healthy habit of compiling family photo albums, to flip through them together, sitting on a sofa, on cold winter Sundays.

There are experiences, moments, memories, images that can be kept well enough offline.