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Kids Have an Online Image Before They're Online
By: Jessica Cherok
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What kind of online image are you creating for your kids? Sure, they’re silly and cute, doing all those kids-will-be-kids things. Your family and friends might enjoy seeing nearly every moment captured for posterity, but once your child is online, will they find it as adorable?

The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) governs how websites can interact with children under the age of 13. After that, how kids use the Internet — for the most part — is up to their parents. This means that by the time kids are old enough to sign up for most social media sites, there is already a digital persona created for them, and largely without their input, because it was created by their parents.

Considering how much we’re told to be careful with what we post online about ourselves, we don’t seem to give the same heavy consideration to what we post about our children.

Parents have become sort of a familial paparazzi, snapping pictures of their child’s every movement. Considering the frequent horror stories we hear about kids who grow up in the public eye, it seems odd we would willingly put our kids on display. Admittedly, it’s not exactly the same, but the potential scrutiny still exists.

How do you interpret privacy when one (or several) pictures of you has been posted online every day? Pictures you had no real knowledge of?

Think of it this way — if you suddenly found out someone had been posting photos of you every day for 13 years without asking you if it was okay or even telling you they were doing it, would you be mortified? Probably, unless you’re a complete narcissist.

So what makes it different when parents do it to their children? Considering how difficult it is to navigate privacy controls, how can parents assume they're doing their due diligence in protecting the privacy of their children?

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About the Author
Jessica Cherok is an advocate for online privacy, campaigning for ethical data practices and the protection of personal privacy.
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