The digital era has paved way for a lot of things. We are now connected to people who are miles and miles away. The problem is, people sometimes misuse this privilege. Don’t get me wrong, the advantages of social media most definitely outweigh its disadvantages. It has helped us to stay close to people who are miles and miles away through audio-visual aids. The online world is still pretty new, given that its growth has only been seen in the recent decade. This means we have to be very careful about how we use it because we haven’t experienced all of its dangers.
Nowadays, it is not uncommon to hear that a mother/father is putting up a status update to explain their due date, pictures of the baby shower and pictures once the baby arrives. There have even been cases where parents create Instagram accounts for their children and caption the pictures as though the child is the one talking.
If that’s the path you’ve chosen, then well and good. Because life is full of choices. I just think that every parent needs to be aware of the dangers of doing so before they do it.
Here are a few danger of posting your child’s pictures online.
- It puts your child at risk of impersonation or digital kidnapping
There have been cases where people steal pictures that are put up on social media and use them like their own. It’s a type of identity theft where the user gives the child a new identity and new names. In other cases, these pictures have even been used to fundraise by lying that the child is terminally ill. An example of such an incident is one that happened in 2015 when a stranger took a photo of an 18-month-old boy from a blogger’s Facebook page and posted it on her own Facebook profile, acting like he was her son.
When you post your baby’s pictures online you don’t know who is watching, and what their intentions are with those pictures. Which is why it’s necessary to think through whether you must post those pictures. If it’s part of your blog, you can still put up content without necessarily using an actual picture of your child.
- Your child may end up on child pornography sites
Yes, this is an actual thing. Child pornography is any content that depicts sexually explicit activities involving a child. Visual depictions include photographs, videos, digital or computer-generated images indistinguishable from an actual minor. What happens is, the people responsible gather pictures of your child and use photoshop to make the pictures to look sexually explicit.
A research carried out by the Internet Watch Foundation identified 2,082 images and videos of live-streamed child sexual abuse. It revealed that 98% of images found were of children aged 13 and under, 28% were aged 10 or under, while the youngest victim was just three-years-old. Most times tracing the person who used these pictures is nearly impossible, because of the barriers that they have placed in their servers to block access by people. This means that you may not have much control once your child’s picture lands on these sites, and that’s completely scary.
- It could impact your child’s future
The problem with posting online is that the internet never forgets. You can’t prevent people from taking screenshots and you never know what they are doing with those screenshots. Cyberbullying is real. You never know at what point a person will choose to release pictures of your child. Just last year, there was an instance where a popular newscaster (name withheld) put up pictures of her children on social media. The internet was quick to say that one of her children was ugly. Now imagine if the child finds this information online once they grow up? It can be completely disheartening. The child would even be angrier because they didn’t consent to the pictures going up on social media.
- You may be sharing your child’s location
There have been cases, even for adults, where people trace the exact location of the person based on the pictures that are put up online. In Kenya, a popular blogger (again, name withheld) was robbed last year by people who seemed to know exactly where she lived. They probably traced the location through her postings online. If you put up pictures of your child online, you never know who is looking. Which is why you might just want to refrain from it altogether. Even if you don’t give it away obviously, G.P.S enabled phones and tracking devices could still give people access to the information. When you put up pictures of your child in their school uniform, kidnappers could find out exactly where the child is and take action.
- Anonymity and consent issues
One of the main issues to do with putting up the pictures of your child online is that it is a violation of privacy. Consent is extremely important, and an underage child is unable to give you the go-ahead to put up their pictures. The child has not consented to you putting up these pictures. This in fact means that when you put up pictures of your child online, you are in effect taking control of your child’s digital identity. Is it safe, or even ethical to publish something about someone who can’t give their consent?
- Child Bullying
People on the internet can be extremely insensitive, which is why you should not put up pictures of your child online. In 2018 for example, a politician put up a picture of her daughter online and wrote a tribute for her on her birthday. It was a beautiful tribute. The internet, however, did not respond too kindly. Some men asked if she was a virgin. Others even asked if she could be handed over to “Team Mafisi” to take care of her. If this isn’t bullying then I don’t know what is. On top of this, I can’t help but wonder how these comments impact the child’s mental health. It can even lead to depression.
Before you put up your children’s pictures you should consider if it is really worth it. Here is How You Can Protect Your Children Online. Also, find out How smartphones can cause mental illnesses to children as young as two years