It has never been easier to update family and friends on what’s happening in our lives, thanks to Facebook, Instagram, and other social media platforms. Most of us think nothing about posting our digital family album for all our “friends” to browse through.
Among young parents, the temptation to post our adorable children’s photos is just too hard to resist. We are so proud of our progeny that we can’t help showing them off and are amused when we see “likes” and “comments.”
This openness in giving people a peek into our lives through the Internet has raised concerns over privacy and personal boundaries. We risk getting caught off guard by an acquaintance’s intimate familiarity with happenings in our lives, and we risk being judged by people we don’t really care about on the basis of pictures and status updates that we post.
But most of all, we risk the privacy of those who do not yet have a say about it but have the starring role in our social media presence – our children. Little kids do not even know what the word means, and yet their right to privacy is constantly being violated by those who are supposed to protect them.
As parents, it is our responsibility to keep our children’s privacy sacred for them while they still cannot decide for themselves whetheror not they want their images to be available in the World Wide Web.
So, then, every time we post something about our children, we have to pause and think if we are disrespecting – or even exploiting – their privacy with what we are about to upload.
Let us be mindful of what we share out there – and know that we violate our children’s privacy when we do the following:
1. Posting naked or almost naked photos The endless parade of sleeping babies, potty training toddlers, and bathing little girls in various states of undress are cute, but they come with a heavy price. No matter how innocent and harmless our intentions are, the risk of those photos being grabbed by people with nefarious intentions cannot be discounted. As a case in point, a girl recently saw, to her horror, her sexy self-photo or selfie on a nightclub’s tarpaulin.
Exposing our children’s body violates their right to privacy. As parents, we should consider the best interest of our children in everything that we do.
2. Writing about their behavior Children have meltdowns or tantrums at one time or another. We might find it cute, we might find it annoying, but showcasing our kids’ behavior in public is humiliating for them, whatever their age. It also influences people’s impressions of our kids, says children’s book editor and devoted “tita” Frances Ong.
Writing about our children’s tantrum or posting a picture of them writhing on the floor will do more harm than good. We open the door for people to judge our kids and us. We also invite unsolicited advice on how we should parent our children.
3. Detailing their every little accomplishment Homeschooling mom Joanne Parungao has made it a point to only post activities that her children, ages 10, 7, and 3½, are involved in. More often than not, the photos that she posts are of the activities alone and without her children’s faces. It’s a conscious decision on her part. It’s inspiring, without being obnoxious.
There are some parents, however, who post photos of their kids’ school cards and videos of awarding ceremonies. While the children’s accomplishments are laudable and the parents definitely have the right to be proud, such broadcasting of achievements borders on being smug.
Children often object to being talked about, too. If we hear our child say at least once to “stop talking about me”, then it is a good idea to keep from sharing too much about them. Showing their grades to the world, whether or not those are all As, isn’t respectful of their right to quietly bask in their own accomplishments.
4. Sharing too much information about them In December 2008, “overshare” was declared the Word of the Year by Webster’s New World Dictionary. It is a verb that means “to divulge excessive personal information, as in a blog or broadcast interview, prompting reactions ranging from alarmed discomfort to approval.”
We live in a world where oversharing is tolerated, though not necessarily accepted. While it is our prerogative what we share about ourselves with the vast online world, oversharing about our children violates their privacy and risks their safety.
Photos with their names, status updates about where they are, mentions of their strengths and weakness, and musings about how they are feeling all make our children vulnerable to interested, invisible eyes.
5. Prodding them to perform on video As parents, we are proud and thrilled of each new accomplishment of our infants, toddlers, or preschoolers. We want to show everyone just how precocious our little ones are. So we prod them to “perform”so we can capture their antics on our smartphones. We upload without really thinking about it.
Asking kids to sing or dance for our enjoyment, and sharing it with others, might make us happy and proud, but the act of goading them to perform may put undue pressure on them in exchange for a few likes and comments. Children are not our playthings.
The development of social media has been rapid, and we are all still unaware of its full impact on our children. In fact, laws around the world regarding its use are still in the baby stages. The Cyber Crime Law of the Philippines, for one, was only passed in 2012.
The rules of engagement in social media are still tenuous and evolving. However, our children’s right to privacy must always be recognized and never compromised. We must all remember that each image, tweet, or status update that we release into the World Wide Web might come back to haunt our children when they are grown. Let us examine how we use social media, especially when it comes to using our children’s images and stories.