Protecting our kids, protecting their privacy

PhotoGrid_1420531585135Being an Occupational Therapist and working with children, I have been drilled to the core regarding client confidentiality. My clients are kids and their families and I abide by strict rules of what I can say, what I can’t say and to whom I say it to. I once had to pretend I didn’t know someone to maintain confidentiality.

When at a clinical placement, we made massive sensory tubs for kids to come and play with. It was a public event and I wanted to share what I had done on Twitter so other OT’s could see what we got up to. When taking the photos I had to make sure that no child was identifiable so I just took photos of their arms sticking into the tubs. This was all to protect the children’s privacy.

Now, more than ever, it’s easier to share photos. Social media is a great medium to make sure we don’t miss out on people and their lives even if they live hundreds of miles away. I know that I am one who lives vicariously through the photos my cousins post of their children, seeing them growing up, building snowmen or petting their new baby sister.

But our lives have also become very public, thanks to social media. I have been seeing too many photos on Instagram and Facebook without any privacy settings on them. I’ve even seen schools (and this is quite specific to Maldives) post rows and rows of photos of their young students on Facebook, on a public setting. It’s quite easy to to do a Google search ‘Why not post photos of children on Facebook’. In facet, that’s exactly what I did.

Children cannot give consent

When we post photos of ourselves, we make sure we post the best version we have. In fact I’ve received messages from disgruntled friends whom I have inadvertently offended by posting a photo they were not a hundred percent okay with. Kids, especially babies and toddlers, can’t make this call. We might think a certain photo is cute, but we have to stop and think how they might react in a few years time seeing those photos of themselves.

We don’t know who sees our photos

Avoid sharing personal details such as full name, date of birth or place of birth. We don’t know who can access this information and can fall into the hands of someone who wants to steal your child’s identity. I’ve seen more than a few photos on my Facebook feed where the photos appear as a public post.

I’ve read a few articles where clever parents use a nickname for their child when they share photos. Or just make a private album and make sure you know who is able to see these photos. In a world where everything appears to be getting smarter, we want to make sure we are are smart about our privacy. Take some time to make sure you’re on top of your social media privacy settings.

I know how proud I am when I see photos of my little cousins. I am tempted to post a photo, screaming “We share the same genes, aren’t we cute?”. Not that I haven’t in the past either. But now I am very mindful about what I am posting where.

I have learnt that it is very important to get permission from the parent before I post photos of their children. I have a friend who shares photos of her daughter but the little girl is never identifiable. The photos are of her feet, hands playing with toys, from behind or from above. The mom shares her daughter and what she gets up to but she maintains the privacy of her child. That’s why when I posted a photo with this little girl I posted a silhouette of myself and her.

Here are a few articles that go into way more depth, and probably articulates everything better than I have. Have a read and share around. Peoples idea of privacy is different. It’s up to you to decide what is right for the child and the family.

Does sharing photos of your children on Facebook put them at risk? -This one is my favourite. It has some great points and anecdotes as well.

Parents warned of dangers in posting children’s images online -While the title sounds quite drastic, it is a good article to read. Also gives a view that everything is good in moderation, we don’t need to go into overdrive and attempt to wipe the child’s digital fingerprint (which is probably impossible these days)

Parents decide against posting their children’s pictures on Facebook – This one is nice and short. It also gives some tips on how to safely share photos.



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