Parents like to show pictures of their children on social networks – but that can have far-reaching consequences. Here you can find out what parents should know about what is known as sharenting.
Sharenting: what does it mean?
Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Tik Tok … for many, the use of these apps is part of their daily life. Often times, snapshots, photos and videos are shared … often those that show their own children. There can be a wide variety of reasons for this: The joy of the child's birth, a photo from a child's birthday, souvenir pictures from a trip or vacation … You want to share the experiences and pictures with friends and relatives – but these are not always supposedly harmless posts, like one might think as a parent.
The photos and videos from the social networks can be misused and copied on the Internet. The term sharenting is therefore currently under discussion and is intended to draw attention to the possible consequences of the problem. "Sharenting" is a merged term, consisting of the English words "share" and "parenting". Sharenting describes the use of digital media to distribute data (images, videos, information) by children.
Why is sharenting problematic?
Sharing a snapshot of your own child can't be that bad, can it? But! The careless handling of children's pictures can be critical, as reported by the police and the German Children's Fund. Dangers arise due to the following points:
- Further use of the pictures: All images can be downloaded, saved and otherwise misused from social media accounts (especially if they are public). It is therefore impossible for parents to predict what will happen to their children's pictures.
- Child safety: In this context, there is also the risk that pedophiles could collect photos of children and share them in their own networks, as the cyber criminologist Thomas-Gabriel Rüdiger warns. Parents also have to be careful of stalkers when sharing photos of their children on the internet. It also becomes critical when information about the children can be viewed, says Rüdiger: criminals could find the child in this way.
- Risk of bullying: There are so many beautiful and funny moments with children that parents love to capture on camera. If such a picture gets online, the parent should inevitably deal with the question of whether the child will later find this photo so beautiful – especially if these pictures can be viewed by everyone, including their peers. You could put the child in very uncomfortable situations and also provide potential bullies with a template.
- Right to privacy: Children have a right to privacy that is often not considered when sharenting. According to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 16 Paragraph 1, "(k) a child (…) may be exposed to arbitrary or illegal interference with his or her private life (…) or unlawful damage to his or her honor and reputation."
- Right to your own picture: Children also have a so-called "right to their own picture", according to which every person can decide for themselves whether and how their pictures may be published.
- Right to informational self-determination: This personal right is disregarded, for example, if children do not know whether and in what context photos of them are posted.
Sharenting: what should parents consider?
In principle, parents should ensure that they use photos of children consciously and responsibly. The German Children's Fund gives the following tips:
- Include the children: At an early age, parents can talk to the family about how to deal with children's photos. It is best to ask the children themselves as soon as possible whether they agree with the post and, if not, respect the decision.
- Avoid information about the child: Be careful not to reveal any personal data in a photo.
- The Security and privacy settings Regularly check on social media and limit if necessary.
- Don't post inappropriate or embarrassing pictures! Before sharing the picture, parents should always ask themselves if the picture might be uncomfortable for the child in any way later. If there are other children in the background, the consent of the parents must be obtained here as well.
- Check the section of the photo: If necessary, the face can be made unrecognizable (e.g. by emoji / pixelation) or a detail (e.g. hands) can be shown so that no personal rights are violated – especially if the children are still too young to see theirs To give consent to the post.
- Role model function: Parents can show their children how to use images responsibly on the Internet at an early age, so that the children themselves learn to use them responsibly.
Would you like to exchange ideas with other parents on the subject of upbringing? Then take a look at our community.
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- German Children's Fund: Study "Children. Pictures. Rights. Personal rights of children in the context of digital media use in the family"; Six tips for dealing with photos of children (dkhw.de, accessed on November 18, 2020)
- Unicef: The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (unicef.de, accessed on November 18, 2020)