The excitement of children returning to school is something all parents share. Many parents are already packing school bags, cheerfully humming to themselves in anticipation of a child free zone at home, for a precious few hours a day. Children will soon be dressed in their new school uniforms, carrying new school bags filled with insanely overpriced books, marching bravely in to a first or new school term.
In all the excitement, with tears of joy in their eyes, parents like to capture this moment, the First Day at School. These images will then be shared on Social Media with family members and also possibly with other parents, who are also experiencing the taste of freedom from the first time in many years.
Just before you take part in this very important yearly ritual, we would ask you to consider the following 3 reasons, why you should not share these magnificent images of your children on Social Media.
Our experience of photographs, compared to posting images of our children online.
Each one of us at some point in our childhood, has had a very dodgy hairstyle and wore incredibly dated clothing, captured for eternity in photographs by our parents. These are the images you look to remove from the family photo album, because you may be embarrassed to be seen wearing a very fashionable perm in your hair, or trendy Joe Blogg’s jeans combined with an even more attractive carpet jacket perhaps.
When we were younger, images taken in bursts of 12, 24 or an incredible 36 at a time, remained in the camera until printed. The only people ever to see the image was mostly family members, and that poor individual who had to make sure the returned the correct developed set of prints. This much admired professional had painstakingly looked through countless blurred images, seen many a picture of a thumb, and even more of people with only half a head.
Today things are different, we take and share images in an instant. What we forget, is that our children will also grow up some day. They will also look back on the images their parents have taken. They may also feel a little embarrassed. However, unlike our family photo album which was seen by a few people, and possibly a that new boyfriend or girlfriend that called around, and your parents shamed the life out of you, by showing them your pictures.
Our children will face a reality, were the entire world will have seen their images. We will have stolen their privacy, and possibly created situations whereby, that silly little moment you captured when they were younger, can now be used by others to embarrass and cause great emotional upset to them.
Who are you sharing the image with?
When an image is posted online, you lose all control of it. The second somebody, Likes, Comments or Shares the image themselves, individuals whom you may not know, can have access to this image. The image can be downloaded or screen captured. The image can be altered by any individual. You are also sharing your child’s personal data. Your child’s image is their property and once you have it, you are responsible to what happens to it.
Paedophiles may get access to the images of your child.
Another frightening reality, being the images you post may end up in the hands of a paedophile. These individuals search through Social Media to find images of children which have been posted by the children themselves or their parents. The image a parent post may be tagged to the Social Media account of their child. This provides an easily identifiable access point directly to the child. A doorway the parent has opened to their own child without realising it.
Upon finding imagery of children, the images or profiles can then be shared with others like-minded individuals. All of this can be occurring without a parent even realising it is happening. Images can be harvested from Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, the three primary Apps favoured by both parents and children. The images need not be anything sexual or explicit in any way.
Once harvested the images can be sexualized by alteration, or used for fantasy, used in a chat group were sexualised comments or commentary is added. This type of commentary on innocent images of children can be horrific. It is certainly not something a parent would like to read about their own chid.
We are in no way suggesting, you do not capture this precious moment when your child returns to school. How else will you be able to remember the day, and look back upon on it fondly? How else will you be able to reminisce, about that first day you had the whole house to yourself, until 2 o clock in the afternoon.
However, we are advising strongly that you should not share the images of your children on Social Media. Just break it down to basics. Would you be happy knowing that all the images in your family album are available for the world, including who knows how many paedophiles to access?
Whatever you decide, we would like to congratulate every parent for managing to make it through another summer. Enjoy the empty house while it lasts, 9 months pass so quickly. We would also like to wish all the children and teens returning to school all the best for the new school year.
Hopefully we will get to meet plenty of parents, children, teens and teachers over the next few months when visiting schools around Ireland. If you are interested in having Children of the Digital Age visit your school, contact us on 087-7485152 or 0879175014.