A recent Huffington Post article features the modern day problem of parents posting photos to their social media accounts with other people’s children and tagging them. It is a new challenge that requires a restraint, or at least a mindfulness about taking and posting photos. The old adage, just because you can doesn’t mean that you should is demonstrated by this dilemma.
So much of what happens on-line cannot be legislated, just as in life. And the best we can hope for is to establish norms or courtesy, that respect the rights of others to consent before posting photos to a social media news feed, which is not private even if it is set for “friend’s only.
In the network culture, the standard for trust is pretty high. This means that there must be a respect for individual preferences, rights and needs, and a mindful effort to honor boundaries that seem elusive today. It seems so normal to snap and post, almost like breathing. And while taking and posting photos of children at your son or daughter’s birthday party may seem innocent enough, the question remains how well do you know the friends invited to the party? There may be very good reasons why other people’s children do not want to have their identities posted and tagged on line.
Suggested protocols for sharing photos of your child’s social events
Establish and communicate photo posting etiquette. With the parents of your child’s friends, share your photo posting etiquette. State the things that you do to limit the amount of personal data made available on-line. This would include your own rules about “tagging”. Do minor children really need parents posting and tagging children in their Facebook and Instagram accounts?
In addition, share the other things you do to be careful. Some examples might include:
- Avoid taking photos that reveal the address or landmarks of the local hangouts
- Disable the geotagging (locations) function on your phone or camera (this is meta data can be used to identify the location of where you took the photo)
- Avoid photos of kids holding up signs or certificates that contain more personal information (such as a driver’s permit or a diploma)
Keep in mind that the more personal data we allow to be published, and publishing your schedule (such as when you plan to go to a game or the park) the greater the digital trail about children and the greater the risk for identity theft, bullying, and it could come back to haunt them in the form of stalking, or awkward moments with a potential employer or romantic interest. With social media being so prevalent and the temptation to share so great, one family motto that might work well is “less is more”. Too much information can lead to more complications later in life. So let’s consider that our job as parents is to make it possible for youth to get a reasonably “fresh start” in their adolescent and young adult years without too much personal information in the cyber realm.
Alternative on-line photo sharing sites. Consider alternative ways to share the photos with only those people who attended your event. Photo sharing sites you might want to try include Picasa, Shutterfly, and SnapFish. For more about the top photo sharing sites, go to: eBizMBA. (Note: Instagram started out as a photo-swapping site and then quickly grew into a hot social media platform for keeping friends and family informed. If you and your parent community decide to use Instagram, then make sure your settings are “private”. Nevertheless, there are no guarantees that the information you share in a photo sharing network will not be accessed by people you do not know.)
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Joanna Jullien is an author, educator and speaker on strengthening the parent-child relationship in a cyber powered world. She is a mother of two grown sons, the author of The Authority In Me: The Power of Family Life in the Network Culture, produces The Sacramento Cyber Safety Examiner column on Examiner.com, and is the CyberParenting advisor on The Fish 103.9FM. Her new book, A Google World in the Garden of Eden: Five Family-Safe Strategies for Texting and Social Media is now available for PC and all eReader formats including Kindle, Nook, iPad.
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Jodie Stevens, hostess of The Fish Family Morning Show on 103.9FM The Fish offers insights and lessons learned about faith and recovery from addiction. Check out her blog, Genuine Life with Jodie Stevens, weekday mornings on the Family Morning Show.