Whether you like posting images of your children online because you want to connect with your family members scattered around the world or you simply like to reflect on your life through the digital storytelling of everyday moments, there are some key steps that you can take to make sure that you protect your children’s privacy.
Debates about posting images of children’s online have been around for long, (e.g. New York Times in 2009). Yet, in 2016 we have seen an explosion in newspaper articles addressing the topic (see Resources). At present, parents are bombarded with commentary pieces assessing the pros and cons of posting images of children online (see the debate on the Wall Street Journal, 2016). What is emerging clearly from these articles is the fact that there is a sharp division between the ‘share it all’ parents and those parents who chose not to share anything of their children online.
As this website aims to show, although interesting, these debates fail to really address the fact that the question about children’s digital data goes well beyond what we share and what we don’t share on social media. At present the data of our children is collected, archived and exploited by a plurality of agents and institutions and we have little control over this data. But we do have control over the data that we post and there are ways in which we can protect our children when we post.
In the first place, we need to inform ourselves. This does not only mean that we need to understand how Privacy Settings work (and the socialpilot.co guide provides you with a useful summary of the Privacy settings of the most used social media in the U.K. and the U.S.) but we also need to learn to fast-read privacy policies. Furthermore, we need to be aware of the broader picture, and of the difference between corporate and non-corporate digital platforms.
In the second place we need to remind ourselves that there are numerous ways in which we can ‘share’ photos of our children, and that a small change to our digital habits can make a significant change in the protection of our children’s privacy. In this regard, the article published by The Guardian (2014) How to Share Family Photos Safely, offers some useful (yet a bit dated) tips.
In the third place we need to take control of our digital storytelling. Taking control means thinking about our digital narratives about how these narratives enable specific forms of profiling (e.g. consumer, political, religious, medical etc.). It also means finding ways in which we can ‘tell the story’ without giving away too much personally identifying information about your children. One way in which we can do that is by 1) make sure that you do not share location information 2) try to use a nickname or abbreviation rather than the full name of your child 3) keep the conversation going with your children, recognising that ultimately they have the right to decide what can be shared or not.