By Internet Matters Team on
EMBARGO 0001 August 21, 2017. UK. Capturing your child’s first day of school in a photograph and sharing it with friends and family is a proud moment for any parent.
And today Internet Matters has teamed up with the BBC to provide seven essential tips to help thousands of media-savvy mums and dads planning to share pictures of their children as they head back to school after the summer holidays.
The not-for-profit organisation– the UK’s leading voice on children’s internet safety – expects more back to school pictures than ever will be shared across social media on the first day of the new school term, beginning September 4.
And while most parents are well-versed on the impact of ‘sharenting’ on social media, Internet Matters is encouraging them to follow a few simple rules to make sure they are thinking about the risks of over-sharing – from making sure social media privacy settings are up-to-date, to recognising how a photo posted online can have on a child’s digital footprint.
Dr Linda Papadopoulos, a child psychologist and Internet Matters ambassador , said: “Without a doubt the first day back at school is a very proud moment for parents and it’s natural you may want to share special pictures of your children with your close friends and family. The message from Internet Matters is that if we’re proud of our children, we must also protect them.
“As parents we should think carefully about posting and sharing pictures of our children on social media and follow the basic rules for safe sharenting.
“Before social media existed, you would have pictures in your purse and you would say ‘oh here’s my son and my daughter’ and you could put it back in your purse and have full control over that picture.
“It is different now when you’ve got hundreds of friends viewing your social media feed as you’re updating it with lots of pictures of your children.
“The more you reveal about your child’s life publicly on social media the more at risk they are of online dangers such as grooming.”
Dr Linda added: “Be careful about posting your back to school pictures. Check your privacy settings – who can see that photo? Check what’s in the photo – does it reveal too much about them? Think about what is included in the background of the picture, where they are choosing to post it and who can see it. It is easy to get carried away because your child looks cute in a picture but forget your door number or personal information lurks in the background.
“If they’re in their uniform, how comfortable are you about displaying their school badge? Can you see their name on their exercise books? Also think about their digital footprint. When you post pictures of them online, you are responsible for their online reputation and might be taking away their future right to privacy.
“For example, your child may feel embarrassment at a later date about a caption you have posted today, or may feel self-conscious about a picture you posted of them.”
Last year tens of thousands of British parents reportedly posted their child’s back to school pictures on social media – with many finding ever-creative ways of posting snaps of their children online. A number of witty pictures – including ones with parents celebrating while their children looked miserable – went viral on social media.
With sharenting and social media use on the rise, the amount of back to school photos being posted on social media is bound to increase to record levels in September. A recent study revealed more than half of UK parents – 56% – said they did not post photos or videos of their children on social media, with 87% saying the main reason was they wanted their children’s lives to remain private. However, 42% of parents say they do share photos of their children, with half of these parents posting photos at least once a month. Out of the parents who do share photos, 52% said their
children are happy for them to do so and 84% say they only share things their children would be happy with. Carolyn Bunting, General Manager of Internet Matters, said: “In most cases parents are very sensible about the sort of pictures they post. Sharing photos of our children online is for many a very normal and natural thing to do. We encourage this but hope our tips will give them the confidence to carry on doing this knowing they are protecting their child. “Once a picture is online, it can be tough to control where it can be seen and how it is used – despite being careful with your own privacy settings. The internet has a long memory, and it can be very difficult to remove your digital footprint. Children have a right to dignity and privacy, both now and in the future. A good rule of thumb is not to post the sorts of pictures of your child that you wouldn’t be happy sharing of yourself.”
Seven tips on safe sharenting :
1. Don’t post photos that might embarrass your child, now or later in life.
2. Ask permission before posting photos of someone else’s child. avoid the awkwardness of a friend asking you to take something down.
3. Think carefully before posting photos of your child in their full school uniform, or outside their school – this can lead to easy identification of your children or their friends
4. Ask friends and family not to tag themselves in photos of your child – this can make your picture viewable by their friends and followers.
5. Check your privacy settings so only friends can see your posts and turn your location settings off, so people can’t see exactly where you took it. Consider what’s in your profile information and the other updates you post.
6. Don’t post nude or nearly nude pictures of your child; even innocent pictures can be harvested, posted elsewhere online and potentially accessed by predators.
7. If you’re posting pictures of your child in recognisable places, turn off location tagging.
For more information visit our internetmatters.org or to find out if you are sharing too much of your child’s life online, visit the BBC Guide .