When Facebook first arrived on the social media scene it was an exclusive network only for elite university students. However, as the platform took off the company widened its membership to allow the general public to join the network.
On 26th September 2018, it will have been 12 years since the platform opened up to everyone aged 13 and over, and the children who were starting secondary school when Facebook became mainstream are now young adults in their mid to late 20s.
Naturally, when Facebook was still in its infancy users were not as savvy about their privacy, and the potential dangers of oversharing were unknown. Many parents who joined the network shared pictures and details about their own lives and those of their children.
Some Instagram parents have even turned sharing their children online into a lucrative business by sharing up to ten pictures a day, digitally documenting everything from temper tantrums to children in the bathtub – effectively taking away their offspring’s right to digital privacy.
Now entering adulthood in a vastly different digital landscape, many of these now grown children have taken umbrage with their parents over sharing on social media. According to the same study, more than two thirds (68%) of 18– to 24-year-olds have asked their parents to take down photos of them from Facebook. 70% say they have asked their parents at least once to not post images of them without checking first.
Parents Should Take Family Members Privacy Concerns Seriously
Founder of OSS Technology and online privacy expert, Steve Roberts, urges parents to take this issue seriously and not to be dismissive of family members concern.
Roberts said: “No parent wants to embarrass their child or violate their privacy, but things they innocently shared a few years ago may now be a source of embarrassment or anxiety as that person enters adulthood. The digital world has changed a lot in the past 12 years and privacy isn’t always guaranteed.”
On the issue of pictures posted a long time ago, Roberts says now is a good time for families to review how they approach privacy. It would also be an ideal opportunity for parents to ascertain their children’s stance on social media sharing and respect their wishes accordingly.
Family Court Rules in Favour of Angry Teen
In January of this year, a Rome family court ruled in favour of an Italian 16 year old boy who brought a case against his mother for her over sharing on social media. He accused her of regularly posting images of him online without his consent.
The unnamed woman has been told she faces a fine of £8,875 if she persists in posting his image online. Furthermore, she has been ordered to remove any images, posts and videos of her son from her social media accounts.
Cases such as this, which are on the rise, should be a warning to parents that oversharing on social media risks violating their child’s right to digital privacy. Currently, these photos are only protected by the parents’ privacy settings and could potentially be seen by outsiders or appear in online searches, however, that does not negate the embarrassment that the child might feel about this photo being shared.
Before clicking the share button parents should consider how this image could impact the mental wellbeing of their child in the future and reflect on how it will impact them if future employers or peers saw it.