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Opinion and Editorial

Think before posting your children's pictures online

Hamad Obaid Al Mansoori
Filed on August 17, 2020

When I googled the word sharenting, I found a lot about it in English since it reflects a worrying phenomenon that is snowballing in several western countries. 

Allow me to give you a short introduction. Not a long time ago, it was normal for parents to worry about the safety of their children in the age of Internet. Parents maintained close supervision and provided guidance. However, what we are witnessing today is the contrary. The child has become the mentor of the parents. Through media, children are launching campaigns to correct the online behaviour practices of their parents.

This takes us to discussing 'sharenting'. You may not have heard of this term before, but many of us practise it unconsciously. Sharenting is composed of two words 'share' and 'parenting'. 

The culture, in short, relates to parents expressing their love and pride in their children by posting pictures and private information of their children on social media. A child from the US complained in a campaign against 'sharenting' that his mother had posted thousands of his pictures on Facebook since the first day of his birth until he reached 15, without his consent. Another teenage girl said her entire life was exposed to the world thanks to her parents' impulsive behaviour of posting everything about her online.

Think before posting your children's pictures online (KT25400817.JPEG)

Children who were born during the emergence of Facebook, are all grown up now, and they are more aware than we think. They have not lived a single day without the Internet. They spend an average of seven hours a day between the smartphone, laptop, and other electronic devices.

On the other hand, their parents were introduced to social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, as recently as a decade ago. Some platforms such as TikTok didn't even exist until two years ago or less. When these platforms appeared, new mothers found a treasure trove of opportunities to show off every moment of their children's growth.

The result is the availability of a vast inventory of images documenting the lives of millions of teenagers located on servers distributed all over the world, accessible to criminals, perverts, fraudsters, impersonators, data thieves, and others. The young adults who are aware of digital footprint, realise the gravity of the situation and its various implications. They are in a situation that is difficult to escape. They understand the harmless intention of their parents, but at the same time they realise that the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

In France, the issue of sharenting did not stop merely at sharing opinions and holding campaigns. It was taken to a higher level; the law was amended to allow children to sue their parents for posting their pictures on the Internet. Under the law, parents could be penalised for hundreds of euros, and even imprisoned for a year.

Amid all this, a wise person must foresee the future, as it may be closer than he thinks. Let's reflect on this, then ask ourselves: What should we do?

Hamad Obaid Al Mansoori is Head of Digital Government and Director General of Telecommunications Regulatory Authority


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