AI Made Friendly HERE

I regularly shared photos of my son on social media – until alarm bells started ringing | Hannah Nwoko

Social media is a strange place. On the one hand it can be a relentlessly toxic, dark cluster of ill intent; on the other, it can act as the glue that binds us to new communities, friends of the past and family we’ve almost forgotten. Nostalgia kicks in when we scroll through Instagram or Facebook and see life milestones from decades gone by. It’s a gentle reminder of life’s simple preciousness.

That’s why it makes perfect sense that, according to some estimates, 42% of parents in Britain share photos of their children online. More than 50% of those parents share these photos at least once a month. A 2018 report by the children’s commissioner found that parents share about 71 photos and 29 videos of their child every year on social media. On average, by the time the child is aged 13, parents have posted 1,300 photos and videos of them to social media.

I used to fall into that category. My son was born in 2015, and as a doting new mother, I was eager to keep people abreast of my wonderful new life. I posted a picture of my son in his cot, neatly swaddled, fast asleep. I posted a picture of him looking outside the window, admiring his first snow. I posted a picture of us together, sitting on a swing in a pretty London park. It gave friends and family a chance to watch my son grow up.

But after a few years of regular sharing, I stumbled upon a campaign by the Child Rescue Coalition that jolted me into a serious rethink, and I started to question how much of my son’s life should be documented and readily available to all. Their Kids for Privacy campaign was a stark reminder of the risks of overexposing our children’s most private moments on social media. Reading the information provided by the campaign, the words “vulnerable”, “paedophile” and “predators” felt like daggers.

For the first time, I found myself asking: why am I sharing? Who are these photos for? And more importantly, who could they be reaching? Once those photos are posted online, it’s almost impossible to completely recall them (especially considering that screenshot and screen-recording features are now integrated aspects of modern tech).

I’m often reminded of the social media families who share their entire lives online, using their children to chase clicks. I wonder if they realise they’re inadvertently exposing their children to harm.

I asked myself whether my son would be happy with me sharing photos of him as he grows up. Was I encroaching on his privacy before he was even aware of it? By putting his photos online, I was automatically creating a chain of data attached to him, indirectly building his digital footprint – and I didn’t fully understand the implications. As technology evolves, who knows how his personal data will be used?

As a 90s kid whose parents used a point-and-shoot compact camera and sent the film off to Boots to be developed, my precious baby photos have remained securely tucked away among a collection of physical photo albums somewhere in my parents’ garage. As they should be. I never had to experience my childhood photos being shared online, so I’ve never had to deal with the consequences. Everything was more private back then, and I want it to be the same for my son.

So I have scrubbed all photos of my son from social media. I stopped consenting to his school and sports clubs taking photos of him for online marketing purposes. I told my family members to stop posting pictures of him on their social media accounts. Instead, I now share exciting moments with close friends and family directly via private message. It’s more personal this way. And it’s safer.

Being a parent means being proud, but it also means shielding our children from unnecessary risks. Exposing them to unknown audiences isn’t worth the likes or the attention.

  • Hannah Nwoko is a freelance writer whose work has been featured in Business Insider, Parents, Romper and HelloGiggles

Originally Appeared Here

You May Also Like

About the Author:

Early Bird