With Halloween out of the way and kids diving into a month’s worth of candy, parents all over will post photos and videos of their children dressed up online for the haunting holiday. While this has become commonplace in the internet age, many parents don’t realize the potentially scary dangers they are putting their children in by sharing too much about them – even something seemingly harmless like a Halloween costume.
A 2020 Pew Research Center study revealed that 52% of parents think other parents share too much personal information online about their children. Many parents like to share their kids’ achievements or show photos of them online to friends. As a result, the term “sharenting,” derived from the words “share” and “parenting,” has cropped up as more parents post pictures and videos of their children online. These parents don’t realize that many issues arise from prolific sharing in both the short and long term.
In 2019, a British study found that more than 1,500 pictures of a child are estimated to be posted to social media sites by the time that child turns five. This means a parent of that child posts at least 250 photos a year. These photos, once uploaded, can be accessed and viewed by anyone online if made public. Moreover, this content can be used to locate where the child goes to school, whom they hang out with, or worse, how to find where they live. All of these can be derived from one photo through the metadata attached.
Beyond the dangers of strangers finding a child through a photo they saw online are the potential implications regarding the privacy and rights of children online. Parents have direct control over what videos and photos they post of their children online, and 84% of parents don’t worry about how their children may react to these posts, according to Pew Research Center.
Children online now have little to no say in whether they want their image and identity exposed to the internet or not. That is because, legally, children have less say in their autonomy online than adults. Adults, in most cases, make the final decision about whether they can post a photo of their child or not. An adult can post a photo of any child without consent from the child or their parents, though there are a few exceptions.
All of this serves as a warning for parents to be wary of photos they put online of their kids. Sharing content online can be fun to interact with friends and family on social media. However, it is essential to remember that once something is on the internet, it’s there forever. It’s always better to play it safe.