The Perils of ‘Sharenting’

Excerpt from this article:

…Researchers, pediatricians, and other children’s advocates are in the early stages of designing a public-health campaign to draw attention to what they say is an inherent conflict between a parent’s freedom to publish and a child’s right to privacy.

… “It’s very rare that parents are sharing maliciously, but they haven’t considered the potential reach or longevity of what is happening with the information they’re posting,” says Stacey Steinberg, a law professor at the University of Florida’s Levin College of Law and the associate director of the school’s Center on Children and Families.

It’s typical for adults to mention a child’s name and birthdate in birth announcements and other posts on sites like Facebook and Instagram, for instance, which puts kids at risk of identity theft and digital kidnapping—when someone lifts images of another person’s kids and portrays them as their own. Some parents publish real-time information about their children’s whereabouts, potentially risking their safety. And well-meaning adults readily go online to share photos of their kids in a variety of intimate settings.

In Steinberg’s new paper, “Sharenting: Children’s Privacy in the Age of Social Media,” set to be published in the Emory Law Journal in the spring of 2017, she writes of a blogger who posted photos of her young twins while they were potty training. “She later learned that strangers accessed the photos, downloaded them, altered them, and shared them on a website commonly used by pedophiles,” Steinberg wrote. “This mother warns other parents not to post pictures of children in any state of undress, to use Google’s search features to find any images shared online, and to reconsider their interest in mommy blogging.”