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Posting photos of children online

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Started by Nathaniel Louwrens 04 Mar 2016 8:03am () Replies (10)

NetSafe shared this article on their Facebook page this morning:

French parents 'could be jailed' for posting children's photos online

It states, 

French parents are being warned to stop posting pictures of children on social networks in case their offspring later sue them for breaching their right to privacy or jeopardising their security.

This is something that I have discussed a few times with my wife and a former colleague of mine. Not about the possibility of being sued, but thinking about what choices the children have about what gets shared online by their parents. What control do the children have over their own privacy and their own digital footprint when others are posting the photos?

Should we be giving our children more say in what gets posted online?

Mr Delcroix said: “We often criticise teenagers for their online behaviour, but parents are no better.”

He argued that people should think about how their children will feel later in life about images of them as infants or adolescents being posted on Facebook or other social networks. “Children at certain stages do not wish to be photographed or still less for those photos to be made public,” he told Le Figaro newspaper.

It might be interesting to ask your students what they think? Do they feel they have control over what gets posted about them? Do they see it as an issue?

What about in regards to what is shared from school? Often parents sign the forms saying that it's okay to share photos or work of their children. Should the children be signing these too? And what if they change their minds?

Check out the Digital Citizenship resources on Enabling e-Learning.


  • Sharon Nolan (View all users posts) 04 Mar 2016 9:14am ()

    This is a very important discussion. We should be informing our students about appropriate use of Social Networks and this message needs to go home to parents as well. So many parents proudly post photo's of their children on these sites and are not aware of the implications of who they are sharing with. So many children post on these sites very inappropriate images and comments which in later life they would regret (hopefully). Education is the key here and we as educators need to be doing more to ensure the messages are getting across to all our communities about cyber-bullying, appropriate use of social networking, implications of our actions in the future and how to ensure that we know who we are communicating with.

  • Nathaniel Louwrens (View all users posts) 11 Mar 2016 8:48am ()

    According to a recent study, many children do not want their parents to post about them on social media. This New York Times article explains further, Don't post about me on social media, children say.

    it’s increasingly clear that our children will grow into teenagers and adults who want to control their digital identities.

    Our children and teenagers seem to understand the internet and its long-reaching and lasting effects, far better than some adults.

    And what can seem positive at the time can have some very negative effects down the track as is seen in this comment,

    “I definitely know people who have parents who post things they wish weren’t out there. There was a girl in my eighth grade class whose mom opened a YouTube account for her in the fourth grade to show off her singing,” she wrote to me in an email. “Finally, on one of the last months of middle school, a peer played the song in class and almost the entire class laughed hysterically over it.”

    • What are your thoughts?
    • How do you manage this in your home?
    • How is this managed in your school or classroom?

    As a society, says [legal skills professor] Ms. Steinberg, “we’re going to have to find ways to balance a parent’s right to share their story and a parent’s right to control the upbringing of their child with a child’s right to privacy.

  • Andrew Penny (View all users posts) 11 Mar 2016 9:59am ()

    I don't post any pictures of my children online...anymore! I used to do this occasionally on Facebook as a way of sharing with family but then stopped. I now only share by texting the image to a family member (usually mum!) but even this is questionable, especially now that mum is on Facebook! My question is, why are parents posting pictures of their children online anyway? My first instinct is to conclude the posting of these pictures is about the parent more than the child. Pride, ego, keeping up with the Joneses? Even if you do ask your children if they are okay with this, at what age are they actually capable of making a properly informed decision about the consequesnces? Interesting topic of debate...

  • Nathaniel Louwrens (View all users posts) 14 Mar 2016 1:51pm ()

    Hi Andrew

    Thanks for sharing your experience.

    You've raised some really good questions.

    At what age do you think children are able to make a properly informed decision? 

    Should parents not be posting photos of children online before their children are old enough to make those decisions? 

    It certainly not a simple issue!

  • anne robertson (View all users posts) 11 Mar 2016 12:35pm ()

    Interesting discussion. My youngest son (aged 16) doesn't like his photo being posted on Facebook. He doesn't seem to have a philosophical objection in that his discomfort is not based on privacy concerns, more about embarrassment at his friends seeing his Mum post photos of him. Teenage angst, sort of thing.  So I am very careful about asking him before I post a photo and getting his approval first. If he deems it to be "ok" then I post but I don't tag him so it doesn't show up on his friend's feeds.  

    I have had the discussion frequently in school with students (all girls) about the "rights and wrongs" of posting photos on social media and they are much more relaxed about it as long as they are the ones posting photos of themselves. They definitely don't like their photo being posted by someone else.  Ownership and control is an important factor. We had an interesting discussion when we were doing a google search of their names as part of a digital citizenship lesson when some of their photos appeared linked to their old schools' websites.  Some of them were quite proud others were very embarrassed and upset.  I guess that comes back to the point made above - their parents had clearly given permission for their photos to be used but the children had not been consulted. 

    So, it is all about informed consent and parental responsibility, isn't it? What else do children under 16 have the "right" to consent to?

    Medical treatment is an interesting case in point; the Medical Council of NZ states that "People under 16 years of age are not automatically prohibited from consenting to medical, surgical or dental procedures so judgement of the patient’s competence to make an informed choice and give informed consent is needed in each instance".  Under 16s can't vote but they can drive a car and get married.  As was also mentioned earlier many students have a much deeper understanding of the implications of social media than their parents do and so involving them in the decision-making makes sense. 

    Just to throw another spanner in the works - I recently read an article in a UK paper which I now can't find, but in it the police were making parents aware of online stalking and grooming. They made the point that if, as a parent, you condoned/supported or even encouraged your 8 yr old to have a Facebook page and lied about their birth date to set it up, then your now 13yr old appears as an 18 yr old on his/her Facebook profile and will therefore be subject to all the unsolicited adverts related to their posts and profile, etc depending on the privacy settings of their page. They are also "fair game" (words of the police, not me) for the trollers out there. Food for thought. 

  • Nathaniel Louwrens (View all users posts) 14 Mar 2016 1:53pm ()

    Thanks for sharing your stories, Anne.

    It's interesting that the students you have spoken to about this are fine as long as they are posting the photos of themselves. They're making the initial decision to put themselves out there.

    So when do/should schools be seeking student permission for posting photos/videos etc or students and not only parent permission?

  • Nathaniel Louwrens (View all users posts) 14 Mar 2016 1:56pm ()

    NetSafe have some excellent resources on managing your digital footprint and on privacy and security.

  • Philippa Nicoll Antipas (View all users posts) 14 Mar 2016 2:04pm ()

    I gave a 'keynote' to a group of Year 9 students who were embarking on a two day symposium where they were exploring online and offline communities. It was entitled 'Google Yourself'. It was amazing how many of the young people found hits in Google - particularly when we targeted the images search.

    I prefer the notion of a digital 'tattoo' rather than a 'footprint' and think parents should consider this carefully in relation to their children. I can see that it will be entirely possible for children growing up now to have every personal occasion posted online - even from when they are in utero!

  • Nathaniel Louwrens (View all users posts) 01 Apr 2016 10:16am ()

    It seems that this is quite topical at the moment. George Couros has recently written a post entitled, Getting proper permission for posting student pictures online.

    In the post, George highlights 3 reasons why we should always ask permission before posting photos online (even if we already have a signed formed to say it's okay):


    each day is different and there are days where maybe a student is not up for you sharing their picture to the world

    This one is so true. I've taken photos of my children at home before and on some days they love the idea of me sharing their photo online, but on others, they really don't want it. We need to respect this.


    we need to model that if we are going to post something online of someone, that we should ask permission​

    If we're not doing it... why would our children/students?


    how comfortable would many teachers be of students just taking a picture of them with their phone and posting it online without permission?

    I certainly don't always like my photo shared.

    I know I'll certainly be making more of an effort to ask permission of those I want to share photos of online.


    What processes do you have in place in your classroom or at home to ensure your children/students/visitors/yourself feel safe in regards to sharing online?

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Digital Citizenship

Digital Citizenship

A group to support schools help their students, staff and whānau become digital citizens