Childhood Photo Privacy Rights; Digital Respect Starts at Home

Hey Parents Digital Respect Begins At Home @MissLori

Your children have rights. They have a right to be sheltered, to be fed, to be educated. And they have a right to protect their own image in life and online. That’s what you want them to do though, isn’t it? You want them to take great care of themselves and their lives on social media. So then WHY are you, their parents, denying them their rights by not asking permission before you post pictures? Go ahead and take a moment to ponder that. I’ll wait.…

While you ponder let me tell you about something happening in Austria right now. A young woman is suing her parents to get them to stop posting pictures of her online. She is 18 years old and her parents have been posting pictures of her online for the last 7 years. Not just any pictures, seriously intimate and, she argues, wholly embarrassing pictures. Pictures of her naked in her cot, and of her potty training, POTTY TRAINING! Can you imagine being a tweenager and having to face the ridicule of a picture of you making poo poo circulating the community? I can hear the nicknames now.

According to court filings the young woman alleges that her parents have over 500 intimate pictures of her as a child on their facebook page and they flat out refuse to discontinue their practice of uploading. Her father claims that the pictures belong to him and he is free to do what he wants with them. The thing is, he is not wrong, in theory. The person who TAKES a picture OWNS the rights. (If you didn’t know that already you may want to go read the fine print of the contracts you have signed with photographers you have hired.) So Dad has legal authority, but what about moral authority?

Have you finished pondering my initial question, because we have circled back to it. If you the parent want more than anything for your children to grow up safe, healthy, happy and successful; if you want them to leave your nest with such a strong sense of self that they don’t post inappropriate pictures or comments online that could hurt their future prospects, hurt themselves or even people around them; if that is your charge then you MUST lead by example. Model the behavior you want your children to adopt. Ask their permission. Consider their feelings before you post. Protect their personhood and their humanity above all else. Because if you don’t do that then all you are teaching your child is how to be a self centered bully.

Look, as a mother of three I absolutely understand the overwhelming urge to share everything you love about your children, as they get older especially. Because when our children grow up and move away, literally and figuratively, sometimes all we have is our memories. We long for the days when our kids were little and thrilled to see us and share their discoveries. Having just taken my first born away to school I am fully engaging in self-care with photos, videos and other memorabilia of his childhood past. I get it. However, despite my deep need for the warm embrace the picture of my diaper clad son with a light saber in one hand and a pacifier in the other, you won’t find me posting it on my FB page, not without his blessing. He may be my baby, but he is also a young man forging his own path, in life and online. I raised him to know he has a right to craft that life the way he wants but he has to take responsibility for his choices. That’s what I taught him and that’s what I practice. The good thing is, because this has always been our routine, my son gives me a lot of leeway. He trusts that I have his best interests at heart and will always protect him first, in life and online. We are a team and that’s even more heartwarming than the picture of him with his potty seat on his head.

If you are still feeling the pull of those pictures, their adorable content calling to you, “Post me! Post me!” I have an alternative for you. Remember photo albums. You know those big books with the sticky pages in which your parents placed all of their photographic memories of your childhood, along with cards, teeth, letters, dried flowers and other treasures? Maybe its’ time we got back to those. Then you could invite your friends over, pull out the book and show the pictures of your wee one making wee wee live. Embarrassing your children the old fashioned way, live at home in person, with people who you know well enough to invite to your home through your front door, not just through your computer.

Your children have rights. Say it with me, “Your children have rights.”






If you appreciated this story check out these other parenting nuggets:

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