Why it matters: When it comes to posting images on social media, some subjects tend to appear more than others: food, workouts, and, probably the most popular of them all, kids. But when a child is old enough to realize that they have an online presence, which they never consented to, not all of them are pleased.
An article by The Atlantic, titled When Kids Realize Their Whole Life Is Already Online, examines how children feel growing up in an age of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other platforms, where their parents post images of them without their knowledge.
Not all kids approve of this so-called ‘sharenting.’ One 11-year-old, who recently discovered her mother had been uploading photos of her for much of her life, said: “I’ve wanted to bring it up. It’s weird seeing myself up there, and sometimes there’s pics I don’t like of myself.”
A study by cybersecurity firm AVG found a quarter of children start their digital lives before they’re even born, thanks to so many parents posting sonograms. It also found 92 percent of toddlers under the age of 2 already have their own unique digital identity. The report is from 2010, so those figures will likely be even higher now.
It’s not just mom and dad who like to post images of their children, most of whom don’t have their own social media accounts; schools, sports teams and other organizations also document these kids’ lives. “I didn’t think I would be out there like this on the internet,” said another 11-year-old, after discovering years of her sports statistics online.
Not all children feel the same way, though; some are happy to discover they have an online presence and compete with friends over who has the most images of themselves on the web. But most tweens want to know what their parents are posting before it goes online.
While putting images of children on social media can cause them embarrassment, and there are also potential risks involved, some parents just can’t help it. As the mother of one 14-year-old girl wrote, to stop posting photos of her daughter “would mean shutting down a vital part of myself, which isn’t necessarily good for me or her.”