Viw Magazine

Business Coach

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  • Written by Luis Corrons, Avast’s Security Evangelist


Children have a right to control their own identities online, even when their identity overlaps with those of their parents.

We’re exposed to it every time we scroll through social media. Hunter’s first book-week costume (hungry, hungry caterpillar), Linda is posting about her eldest coming first in a swimming carnival and your best friend is posting about her baby celebrating their 4-month milestone propped up against a giant teddy-bear.

Today’s kids are growing up with not only their friends and siblings posting pictures of them, but sometimes years and years of photos that their parents posted before they had a say in the matter.

Sharenting is a new term that involves sharing - or, in many cases, over-sharing - images of one’s child or children across social media platforms.

An Avast survey around Australia’s ‘Sharenting’ habits from April this year found that 25 per cent of respondents have posted a photo of their child to their social media, who at the time was under the age of three, without blurring or covering up their face. A further 31 per cent had done the same for a child under the age of eighteen.

However, it’s not just parents that are sharenting, schools and sporting organisations are also sharing photos of kids on their social pages and websites.

As a result, it’s becoming more common for a kid to ask someone to take down a photo. According to the Avast Kids Online: Generation Lockdown survey, 48 percent of kids over the age of 12 have done so at some point.

But asking someone — like a parent — to take down a photo can be daunting and even kind of scary. So how do you help your kids have those conversations?

Ask your child before posting a photo

Photos used to be kept in albums at home, where only people who were physically in our homes had access to them. But, these days, those family photo albums are open to whomever has access to our profiles.

Many parents are so keen to share the moment that often they forget that their children have feelings about those photos as well.

Their child may not be comfortable with their facial expression or hate what they’re wearing, which might seem silly to an adult, but to a child it can feel like life or death. And parents need to respect those feelings.

In order to do that, parents should have a conversation about each photo before posting them.

Ask something like, ‘I’m really proud of you in this photo, is it okay if I put this on the internet?’ and then let them choose their favorite.

Make sure that you ask them if they’re okay with you sharing it in a specific place and tell them who will see it there. And listen if they say they’d really just prefer you don’t post at all.

Encourage your child to take control of their own identities

On the kid’s end, encourage your children to come to you if they’re not happy with a photo you’ve posted or someone else, like a family member or sporting organisation, has posted.

Talk about how they have a right to control where their images are shown and that they’re always welcome to tell you when they feel uncomfortable with something you’ve posted and are nervous to talk about it. That leaves the door open for them to advocate for themselves, not just with you but with other people.

Because, ultimately, children have a right to control their own identities online — even in the spots where their identity overlaps with their parents. And part of identity development is determining where their identities begin and their parents’ end.

Keep that in mind the next time your kid says, “MOM! THAT’S SO EMBARRASSING!” about the adorable photo you posted of them in the sink when they were a baby. It’s their image; their identity; their right — no matter how cute those chubby thighs were.

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