Why parents post photos of and information about children
It's pretty common to share photos of and information about children online. For example, you might:
- share family holiday snaps on social media
- write a blog about parenting and raising children
- contribute to Facebook groups - for example, if your child belongs to a local sporting team
- contribute to advocacy or campaigning websites - for example, if your child has additional needs.
These can be nice ways to keep family and friends up to date with how your child and family are going. They can also be ways of contributing to your community or trying to make a difference for a cause that you and your family care about.
Blogs and posts about your child: things to think about
If you write about your child or post photos of him online, it means that you're creating a digital footprint for him. If you do this a lot, it could be quite a big digital footprint.
Your child's digital footprint is part of her ongoing online reputation. What you post online about your child can never be fully erased from the internet.
This is why it's important to find out how your child feels about the photos and information you share about him. For example, your child might:
- think it's cool
- prefer you not to post or write anything about him at all
- prefer that you ask him each time you want to post or blog images or comments that relate to him
- feel it's OK for you to post to a closed group chat but not to your public Instagram feed or Facebook page.
Talking with your child about posting and blogging
To start with, it's always a good idea to ask your child if she's happy for you to post a particular photo or video of her. Children as young as three can say whether they like a photo of themselves. If your child is too young to give a preference, just use your own judgment.
You might also be able to get a conversation started by showing your child some parenting blogs, Facebook pages or Instagram feeds. You could ask your child what he thinks about the way the parents on these platforms talk about their children online. This can help you get a sense of what your child feels more generally.
Even if your child is OK with you blogging or posting about her now, she might ask you to delete a photo or blog post of her in the future. If this happens, it's important to respect your child's request. But remember that even when you delete photos, you can't entirely remove them from the internet if other people have shared them.By asking your child about his preferences and respecting those preferences, you're modelling good digital etiquette for your child, which helps him become a good digital citizen.
Balancing privacy and sharing in blogs and posts about children: tips
If your child is OK with you sharing some information or images of her, it's still a good idea to try to find a balance between protecting your child's privacy and safety, and sharing your family life.
Here are some tips:
- Avoid mentioning your child's name on advocacy sites or other public sites.
- Avoid posting photos that might identify where your child lives or goes to school.
- Avoid posting personal information that could identify your child, like date of birth or address.
- Be aware that the photos you post could be modified and shared.
- Use email or message apps to send photos to family and friends.
- Create private 'virtual family albums' to share with close family and friends.
One of the most important things you can do is make sure that the images and information you post send a positive message about your child. For example, you might decide not to post a video of your child crying and choose something positive instead. But be aware that your idea of a positive image might be embarrassing for your child. For example, your child might not like a picture of himself doing well at a swimming competition if he's wearing swimmers.