Sharenting - can posting the photos of a child be dangerous?

Sharenting - can posting the photos of a child be dangerous?

Who among us has not seen children’s photos uploaded by our friends on social network sites? Or maybe we also upload them on the Internet wanting to share a special moment in life or just a sweet smile of a child. Of course, everyone has the right to do so, but are there any risks associated with posting the pictures of our kids online?

The phenomenon of publishing children's photos is defined as a sharenting. It is a combination of two English words: "share" and "parenting". This is not something new that has arisen in recent days or months. In fact, from the very beginning of the existence of social media, users have been publishing photos or videos, including their children. Nowadays, it is so common that it has become a natural activity of parents on the network, especially the new parents.

According to the guide 'Sharenting and the image of a child on the web' published by the Nask Academy, 75% of parents are regularly using the Internet to publish materials about their children  (London School of Economics, 2018). In our country, this percentage is around 40%. What is interesting the children have their digital footprints even before their birth. Parents post child’s first ultrasound. It even happens that unborn children have their own profile on a social media.

This phenomenon is not prohibited by law, so can it be dangerous? It turns out that it is and on so many levels. Let's start with the child. By posting an image, we can expose the child to cyberbullying, e.g. in the form of hate. The peers can find childhood photos on the family profile, download and share just for a joke. Or even worse – they can edit the pic in order to make fun and cause embarrassment. We definitely should not publish anything that could be ridiculous. It is worth knowing that when you share material on the Internet, we may lose control over it. Someone can download it and use it for their own purposes.

What's worse, photos can also be used on pedophilia sites. When we are publishing a photo or a video of our child, we usually don't think that it can be used for sexual crimes. However, we should be aware that this may happen. Therefore, you should seriously consider whether the internet is a good place to post half-naked photographs of the youngest family members, e.g. the holiday pictures. The materials we upload also show scenes from the lives of our children. We share where they often spend their time, which kindergarten or school they attend, etc. Unfortunately, this is also important information for people who would like to hurt our child in any way.

By publishing a lot of photos of our home, we facilitate the "work" of thieves. With a large number of our data, it is easy not only to know the plan of the apartment, but even to accurately locate valuable things. Remember that such "tips" can bring upon us many problems.

Sharenting is not prohibited by law. But if, after all, we want to actively publish this type of content on the Internet, let's do it wisely. For security reasons you should configure your privacy settings on your profile accordingly. Photos should not be visible to all users. We can decide  that our family or close friends should have  access to them. It is also a very good idea to talk to your child about whether he or she would like the material to be shown online. Of course, this does not apply to babies, but older kids can express their opinion on this subject, and their objection or approval will guide us in the future.