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Posting pictures of children in social media comes with great risk and is questionable from an ethical standpoint. Still most parents do it

Blog post   •   Mar 02, 2018 10:15 CET

“Our descendants will frown at us for many things, and I think that our lack of attention to Facebook and Google’s tracking of our lives from cradle to grave might be something they care about much more – or at least want to make an informed choice about participating in. When my daughter is 20, she may well be irritated at me for threatening the privacy of her early life.”

The quote is from a BBC technology journalist. He talks about the fact that he posts photos of his one-year old daughter in social media. He is not alone in doing that. Social media, and really just a few key players and companies, are now an integral part of our lives. “If it isn’t on social media, it hasn’t happened,” is a ridiculous statement but nonetheless a mantra many people live by. To post our whereabouts and what we are up to, to share photos of the events in our lives that make us feel the way that we want to feel or that portray us in the way that we want to be seen and understood, has become a natural part of everyday life for a lot of people.

It is no wonder that when people become parents, a truly life changing event, their feeds get flooded with pictures of their offspring. A recent US study found that 63% of moms use Facebook. 97% of them said they post pictures of their children and 89% post status updates about them.

Exposing children to the world through social media is questionable from several perspectives, and it comes with a risk. Is it okay to post photos, often hundreds and hundreds of photos, of somebody that can’t give his or her consent and that has no idea about the consequences? Is it okay to completely create a digital persona for somebody else? Is it okay to, from day one in somebody’s life, start building their online presence - not based on their choices, preferences, moral and ethics, but our own? What are the motives behind posting photos of your child on social media? Is it for their benefit or for your own? Do the benefits outweigh the risks and potential future disappointment your child might feel?

Which brings us to another argument concerning times to come.

We ourselves don’t even know what the future brings. How will the companies that own all these photos and information about us evolve? How will society change? What will all that information be used for? Maybe in completely different ways than now. Maybe in ways that will make us regret having been so quick and frequent in clicking the share button.

On top of that, there is risk involved. You never know where your photos end up, on what hard drive and in what context. It is not uncommon that photos of babies and children are picked up from social media accounts and then circled in pedophile rings. Sometimes they are altered and photoshopped.

Idka is a new alternative social media platform built completely differently compared to today’s giants. The overall structure is of a different kind. Everything from business model to actual technical solutions have been developed from a different perspective, even in a different era. Idka is completely ad-free and totally private. No information about you is stored, no data collected. You have full control over your profile and what you wish to share and how and with whom. If you delete something it disappears from all servers; it is gone forever.

No matter what future developments may be, you know for sure that the information about you and the people you care about is safe. Photos of your children will not fall into hands, other than the ones you choose, and neither they nor their metadata will be stored on any servers and accessible for others. Idka is built on morals and ethics, on compassion, and simply on a desire and respect for freedom.

Be social. Stay private.

Comments (1)

    To the author of this article,

    Your entry is extremely relevant as it perfectly emphasizes the need to analyze parents’ actions when engaging in something that seems quite harmless on the surface. As an aunt to many nieces and nephews with their photos online, I find it quite necessary to explore in further detail. While posting pictures of one’s own child should obviously be done tastefully, that is not always the case. Hence, one of the main problems relies on leaving it up to the parents’ discretion; however, some may foolishly upload inappropriate content without truly realizing. In addition, if they believe that their private profiles are keeping things safe because of proper settings, it is never actually safe from hackers. A mother in Utah posted photos of her babies on her personal Facebook account, but later she was horrified to learn those images ended up on child pornography websites. She is not alone in being a victim to this; therefore, more public attention on a larger scale is essential. Investigative documentaries need to cover the frightening truth about how this content is used in baby-role playing, fake profiles, and pedophile rings as you mentioned. Greater understanding can be achieved through PSAs and even an exposé on a popular television program such as 20/20 or Dateline.

    Understandably, much of the conversation about the topic has been negative. Though, the potential benefits of doing this should be recognized so those who have good intentions are not shamed. You inquired if it is “okay to completely create a digital persona for somebody else?” I agree that there is risk involved; however, there can be great advantages. “Instamom” Katie Stauffer is able to earn money for her family while parenting from home. Although it may appear exploitive to some, there are opportunities that these children can actually benefit from, for example, receiving clothing and conventional products from these companies or even cash compensation that allows Stauffer to now set up a trust fund for her daughters. Balance is a necessary element that they need to put to use when choosing what to make public. Another “Instamom,” Ilana Wiles, revealed that as her children become older, she is “becoming more protective and conscious” of what content she posts. Wiles exercises a truly scarce, yet valuable quality that most mothers and fathers forget, but it makes all the difference. A lot of mindless posting goes into sharenting that could be resolved through awareness. Some oversharing is a product of ignorance where some do not realize that these photos become public property with hidden data (location, time, date) encrypted in them. The American Academy of Pediatrics provides a policy statement with suggestions on monitoring media use for children; yet, they have not issued any guidelines for parents to follow to protect the young from sharenting. Conclusively, as social media develops and additional concerns arise, there needs to be ongoing awareness so parents can make wiser decisions when posting.

    - Selena Gallardo - Mar 22, 2018 04:25 CET

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