When I was a kid, the Internet was a newer and scarier thing, and my mom worked hard to make sure that no pictures of me ended up on it. I remember that every time she had to sign a permission slip that mentioned photography, she'd write "No pictures online." Of course by the time I was in college, I had a Facebook account with hundreds of photos of me on it—but at least I'd approved them all, and there weren't any embarrassing childhood memories kicking around.
Today's kids are going to have a very different experience. It feels like every time I use social media, I'm bombarded with photos of children. Honestly at this point, I'm a little sick of seeing some of my own young family members! And I'm not the only one—in a recent Parents survey of more than 2,000 respondents, 79 percent said other parents overshare online. (Of course, only 32 percent said they overshare themselves.)
In France, however, parents may face stricter consequences than just the irritation of their peers. The country's national police force recently released a statement urging parents to be careful about sharing those adorable photos of their kids. French privacy laws prohibit anyone from posting pictures of someone without their consent—and that law carries fines of up to approximately $49,000 and/or a year in prison! Experts say that once a child grows older, he may also be able to sue his parents if he feels his right to privacy has been violated. Yikes!
It may seem extreme, but in fact, many kids don't want their parents posting about them on social media. Researchers at the University of Washington and the University of Michigan studied parent-child pairs around the country and found that kids ages 10 to 17 were "really concerned" about how much their parents post about them. Three times more kids than adults thought there should be rules about what parents can share online.
The bottom line: think before you upload. Privacy settings often change on Facebook, and it's not unusual for strangers to catch a glimpse of each other's photos. Ask yourself: Will my child be okay with others seeing this? Have a family discussion and set up some guidelines about what's appropriate to post and what isn't. You should also check out our video of things you should never post on social media. A little consideration will make everyone safer and happier.
Chrisanne Grise is an assistant editor at Parents.