The accessibility of images on the Internet shouldn’t be underestimated. Google, Facebook and Twitter have made it very simple to download images and although this option isn’t available yet on Instagram, you can still save an image by taking a screenshot of it.
While we all love obsessing over cute baby pictures, there are unfortunately predators prowling the web for their next victim. Within five minutes, a paedophile can use the images you’ve posted to try and locate your child.
More and more parents have opted to open a social media account for their child, innocently boasting about their growth or daily discoveries. While parents’ intentions are pure, the effects could be lifelong.
CEO of DigitLab, Mike Saunders believes that parents’ egos are often played out through their children’s achievements, which is why opening social media accounts for their children would seem like a viable option. In the same way that parents love boasting about their children’s sporting abilities in conversations with friends, they’ll use social networks to do the same.
“Parents should bear in mind what kind of context of privacy they are creating for their child,” says Saunders. “If you create a private life for your child and someone infringes on it, you have a right to complain and take further actions. But if you are responsible for your child’s life being overly displayed on the Internet, it’s difficult for them to claim back privacy later in his or her life.”
A celeb couple who’ve followed this trend are former rapper and Law & Order star Ice-T and his wife, former Playboy model and lingerie entrepreneur Coco Austin. They became parents to baby Chanel late last year, who made her social media debut within 24 hours of her birth. Just hours after she was born, @BabyChanelWorld had her own social media profiles on Twitter and Instagram, with a combined count of 30 000 followers.
Some parents argue that by starting an account on social media for their child, they don’t overload their followers with baby pictures. Accounts can also be monitored because they’re private and therefore more controlled.
Saunders warns that if children are not yet able to give consent for the profile, parents may experience a backlash later in the child’s life.
Saunders says: “I’m not a psychologist, but I do think there’s a deeper psychological issue behind this. We see celebrity kids struggling to keep up because their lives are constantly in the public eye. If a child’s life is publicly displayed, they’ll require the support to go along with this responsibility.”
While parents should never be robbed of the joy of sharing, they’re encouraged to take caution wherever possible, especially in the digital age of heightened accessibility and cyber-bullying.