Social Media and Photos of Our Children

Friday's Focus: Photos of Children and Social Media

How do you feel about other people publishing photos of your children on the Internet?



Digital photography and the accessibility of the Internet combined with the social media boom has increased the chances of your child's photo appearing somewhere on the Internet without your knowledge or permission.  

 I am not talking about people who post photos with malicious or criminal intent. I am talking about parents, family members,  parents of our childrens'  friends, teachers, coaches and others whose only intent is to share group photos.

Last night, I attended "Success Night" for my 4th grader. He is in an all year round school so it is getting near the end of the year. The teachers host an event that is somewhat like back to school night, but it is at the end of the year.  As we walked around viewing the student's projects  the buzz was all about  the Internet and photos of our children. There were digital photos everywhere of our kids- class photos, field day  photos, field trip photos and photos of the numerous clubs and organizations .

The buzz around the parents seem to morph into a debate on whether or not it is appropriate for someone to post photos of your child on the Internet without your consent. I'll admit that I hadn't given the topic much thought until I heard the arguments for and against.
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I googled "kids birthday parties" and this photo, among a thousand others,  appeared.  How likely is it that your children have attended a birthday party where another guest or parent snapped a photo and later posted it on Facebook or their blog?

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I have a daughter at summer camp and I vaguely remember signing a photo release waiver that allows the camp to include my daughter's photo on the camp's website.  I am certain I have probably signed waivers for other sporting events or organizations, but I never gave it a second thought.  I am sure that most parents don't even think about this issue when they post photos from a birthday party or a soccer game.  I know I don't.  But, clearly I should.

My thirteen and fifteen year old girls live on Facebook and Instagram. I know that they often post photos and even videos from their times together. They are innocent enough and nothing is posted with malicious intent, but I guess that is not the issue.

Listening to parents last night, one thing is certain- Parents are either completely for or vehemently opposed to the idea of photos of their children being shared on the Internet.  My take is that the vast majority of people online are nice people who enjoy sharing photos. Perhaps I am too naive?

With Facebook rapidly taking the place of photo albums, scrapbooks, wedding albums and baby books, chances are a photo of your child is floating around out there on the world wide web. Parents are flooding the social media sites with images of their children at birthday parties, sporting events and other places.

With more and more parents flocking to  social media sites, we will continue to see a rise in the amount of photos of children that are  being shared.  
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Here is are two more examples of the types of photo I found just by googling "kids-activities"




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Can you even stop another parent from posting a group shot of the soccer team or cheer leading squad? Can you prevent a photo of your child attending a party or social event from being published? Legally, you don't have much expectation of privacy if your child is photographed while out in public.  Celebrities have dealt with this privacy issue for decades, but only recently has it become commonplace for us common folks.

Most parents are careful when it comes to their children and we take precautions on our social media sites. We use strict privacy settings when we include photos and details about our children and we assume we have control over what others can see, but we don't.

Can we really control what our babysitters, nannies and other caregivers post to the web? Can we stop other teens from posting group shots that include our teens? What about other parents who innocently post a party pic from a classroom party or a pep rally?

Do parents have a right to be upset about discovering  a photo of their child on the Internet? Or is this some sort of techno panic overreacting?

How would you feel if you stumbled across a photo of your child on the Internet that you did not  know about?

18 comments:

  1. I've heard parents say they won't post photos of their kids online, but never thought about party or group shots. That would be impossible to control. I'd think a parent would have the right to ask someone to take it down though.

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  2. Before my son's teacher posts pictures of students in her class on her blog she makes sure she has signed a parent consent form. But then I find articles like this one 
    http://www.komonews.com/news/local/Case-file-Sex-offender-photographed-young-girls-at-Costco-160042835.html and I'm left wondering if a picture of my daughter is on the Internet on a child porn site without my knowledge. Disgusting.

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  3. I have no idea what the legal position might be, but surely birthday parties, school events etc. are not really public. Schools, and organizations like Guides and Scouts, may have arranged for waivers, but if my child attends a private birthday party I would expect that to be, well, private.

    I am generally wary of posting photos of other people on my blog. I'm OK with people in the background in a public setting, where the focus of attention is clearly on something else, but I shy away from things like group photos or anything taken somewhere not truly public. I did post a group from a camp once, but only after confirming that it was OK.

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  4. Hmm, interesting question - I never really thought about it! Must ponder that one...

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  5. I don't have children, but as a rule for posting pictures, I always get someone's consent. A friend of mine recently posted pictures of me on Facebook and I was furious. First, she didn't ask me, and second, they were horrible pictures of me. I called her immediately, told her to take  them down and to never post a picture of me without my consent. It might be harsh to some, but pictures are our memories, and in a way, I think of them as private memories we share with those closest to us.

    I believe no one should post pictures of anyone without their consent, adult or child. Whatever happened to privacy? I wouldn't give out my friend's or family's addresses and phone numbers without asking, so why wouldn't I do the same with pictures?

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  6. Great post.  As a prosecutor I feel like sometimes I'm paranoid about things like this.  But we can be so proud of our kids, and social media is such a great way to share that delight.  My family is scattered across the globe and FB is a good way for us to see how our relatives are growing and achieving.  But it's always wise to remember that what granny can see, maybe a stranger can see.   I don't know that there's a good answer to your question, Melissa, but it's a good discussion to be having.

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  7. That's an interesting question. I don't know how we can control all of the pictures out there any more with people flashing photos everywhere, from a phone to Facebook in literally five seconds. My daughter is five months old and she already has hundreds of pictures of her floating around Facebook from different family members. And I don't know how their security settings are configured.

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  8. I agree and of course, I would remove a photo if asked. I don't think any of us ever imagined this amount of exposure for our kids- that we have no control over. I have no problem with party pix and group shot being posted, but I met a lot of parents who do.

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  9. OMG, I just read the article about the child predator in Seattle or Washington and it made my spine tingle. I was initially referring to things like my kids posting photos on fb of their friends and other innocent acts like birthday parties and football games, but know I see a whole new disturbing and frightening scenario.

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  10. You have the right idea. It is better to confirm with the parents that it is okay to post a group shot. Thanks for stopping by

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  11. You and me both. Thanks for visiting.

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  12. I am with you, Denise. Everyday I see more and more photos of me being added to fb. I am certain that the people who are sharing them do not mean to cause harm, but a lot of those old high school photos are less than flattering. I agree that our photos are our own private memories, but I suppose the flip side of that argument is that if it is a group shot then the others in the group have the right to share their memories.

    Of course, I grew up in a time when this was not an issue so I didn't care if others included me in school party pix, or prom pix etc., but times have changed. When we initially agreed to be part of those old photos we could not have foreseen a world of instant digital sharing. 

    Thanks for weighing in.

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  13. Thanks, Mark and I agree with everything you added. Our family is spread all over the globe as well. My kids grandparents would never be able to figure out how to login to a password restricted share site so they have really enjoyed the instant connection they have with all of their grandkids. 

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  14. It leaves many of us with mixed emotions. I am delighted that my family members who live far away are able to keep up with my kids. They seldom get to see them in person so it is nice to be able to share each day.  The down side to that, as you pointed out, is that we don't control the privacy settings of those who share our photos. I am certain that it is all done with the best intentions. So far I have not encountered any problems with my own children, but if you have time click on the link that Emily King left with her comment. It is a disturbing and terrifying read.

    Thank you for stopping by and weighing in.

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  15. Mark, if you stop by again, please leave a link to your blog or website. Thank you.

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  16. Michael, if you stop by again, please leave a link to your blog or website. Thank you.

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  17. I like this photos of children and social media which you shred above.  Really you are great photographer because you increasing the media of photography.

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  18. A child's photo should not appear anywhere online, where anyone (and I mean ANYONE) can find it, grab it, and use it.  My stepson is 13, and his mother, who should know better, helped him create his facebook account, complete with photo, address, email address, and made all of it public.  Combining that kind of immaturity and negligence with the widespread availablity of online photos, and the children are placed in danger.  Anywhere I post photos of the children is private or password protected.  Hell, I don't even post my own photo without precautions! 

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