Dhe child splashes around in the sea or happily licks an ice cream cone: carefree holiday moments that many families hold onto and would like to post on social networks. Disclosing details about children’s lives online is known as “sharenting”, made up of the English words share and parenting. But many of these images shouldn’t be online – for various reasons.
“Depending on how old the child is, one would like to share moments of surprise and fascination. This means that parents take pictures of their children in all walks of life, ”says Kristin Langer from the“ Look! What your child does with Media”. What parents find cute today may at some point be a cause for shame for the child, and ridicule and bullying can also result.
Corona has made the phenomenon worse. Because in the pandemic, the opportunities to allow family members and friends to participate in life with the offspring were and are limited.
“Because direct encounters often do not take place, other forms of exchange are chosen much more often. Videos and photos are an essential part of this, ”explains Langer.
Think about the future before posting
Ralph Schliewenz, Representative of the Presidium for Child Welfare and Children’s Rights at the Professional Association of German Psychologists, recommends parents to put themselves in the child’s shoes and think about the future before posting pictures and videos.
“Even a situation that my child may be proud of today can be mega-embarrassing in five years’ time and affect and hurt its self-image as a young person,” says the psychotherapist who specializes in children and young people.
Because children up to a certain age cannot foresee the effects. “That is why they are in need of protection when it comes to such decisions.”
Once recordings are online, they can be copied and misused for other purposes, which is why even supposedly harmless photos can be critical: “If I take pictures of my children on a beach holiday, there may be pictures in their bathing suits, with very young children maybe even without them because of the warmth Dress. If these end up in the network, they can spread quickly, ”says Langer.
Always check: Could the photo stimulate someone?
Parents should refrain from sharing photos that show children in such and similar situations. There are people who look for these types of photos for sexual satisfaction.
“That is not uncommon, and as a parent you should ask yourself the question: Would I like to help people get pictures of my child like this as viewing material? Here it is good and important for parents to protect the family’s privacy. “
Before you start posting and sharing, you should check what can be seen in the pictures and with whom or on which platforms the pictures are being shared, recommends the industry association eco.
When taking photos, the standard can be applied: “Could that be embarrassing at some point or does the depiction stimulate or irritate someone in any way?” This is a good question.
Cover children’s faces with hats or sunglasses
Media coach Langer recommends putting sunglasses on the child for photos that are to be posted and on which the face can be seen.
“Photos or videos that show the area around the eyes are very meaningful. Or you take a head covering that shadows part of the face. “
Another possibility is to edit the pictures afterwards, for example by pixelating the face or covering it with a smiley. In addition, when uploading images via the smartphone, make sure that the location is deactivated, advises eco. Otherwise, others can see where the picture was taken.
If you want to post on social networks, you should definitely check your privacy and security settings. Another sensible measure: limit the target group of albums and photos or only share pictures with relatives or close friends.
Include the child in the planned photo distribution
But not only sharing in social networks and messengers can be problematic. Uploading to the cloud should also be viewed with caution, as personal data can be entrusted to a company and access can be hacked, according to the expert from “Look!” The safest thing to do is to only save images and clips on the hard drive.
Like everyone else, children have a right to their own picture. However, depending on their age, they cannot yet decide whether to publish it themselves because they cannot yet assess the consequences, says Langer.
Nevertheless, she advises parents to involve children in the decision on whether to take a photo at an early stage. From preschool age this is gradually possible.
In general, it is a good idea to actively talk to the children about who can see the photo, online and offline. Ralph Schliewenz also recommends involving the children: “The most important thing is to always communicate with the child and to see the child as a subject and not as an object.”
What to do when pictures are already circulating?
And what if the images are unintentionally circulating on the internet? “Any potential misuse of such photos or videos is beyond my control. If my identity and intimacy are hit like this, it has trauma potential, ”says Schliewenz.
How stressful such a situation is then differs from person to person. It is important that parents become aware of their mistakes: “Mistakes are human and happen. At best, parents and children learn together, ”says the psychologist.