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Boy and girl on the sofa playing on mobile

Kids under 13 and social media – what do they really know?

We often speak with parents about how they feel about social media, so this week; we thought we’d turn the tables and ask kids about their views. After all, it’s worth gaining a better understanding of the people we are trying to protect.

* To safeguard the privacy of the children interviewed, we have changed their names.

First, we spoke to Tom, a 9 year old boy from WA.

eebudee: Do you know what social media is?

Tom: Isn’t it Facebook and Twitter and all that.

eebudee: You’re right. Do you know what people do on it?

Tom: They share information with each other.

eebudee: Do you use it?

Tom: No.

eebudee: Do you have a computer that you use at home?

Tom: Yes, a laptop and my dad’s computer.

eebudee: What do you do on them?

Tom: I play Scratch and Mine Craft and I watch YouTube.

eebudee: What’s Scratch?

Tom: A programming game, it’s pretty easy.

eebudee: It sounds hard! What do you think life would be like without computers and phones?

Tom: Not that bad because when I was at Kings Park all of these people were just staring at their phones.

eebudee: And you thought they should be looking around and enjoying themselves?

Tom: Yeah.

Next we spoke with Lara, an 11 year old girl from Victoria.

eebudee: Do you know what social media is?

Lara: Yes.

eebudee: What do you think about it?

Lara: I think it’s good, but sometimes I think people use a bit too much of it. I still think it’s a good way for people to talk to other people and meet new people, but it doesn’t mean you can’t just go out and meet new people.

eebudee: Do you use social media?

Lara: Yes I do.

eebudee: What do you use?

Lara: I use Instagram a lot and I recently just got Snapchat as well.

eebudee: How often do you use Instagram?

Lara: Quite a lot, I probably use it too much!

eebudee: What makes you think you use it too much?

Lara: Sometimes I have to do something and then I totally forget about it because I’m just on Instagram. But I don’t think I use it way too much.

eebudee: What do you use it for?

Lara: I mainly just talk to my friends because sometimes my friends have been on holiday for a bit. It’s good to be able to talk to them when they’re not right in front of me.

eebudee: How old were you when you started using social media?

Lara: Probably not that long ago. It might have even been this year or last year.

eebudee: How did that come about?

Lara: I’d been asking for a long time to get Instagram, but when I got my phone, which wasn’t a long time ago, I was allowed to. Getting a phone is a big thing, so I was also allowed to get Instagram.

eebudee: Why do you think your parents allowed you to get a phone?

Lara: Basically just because I was getting older so I wouldn’t necessarily be around them the whole time. I’m almost in high school so I’ll be out with my friends. Also, because my dad was getting a new one and so I got his old one.

eebudee: What do you think life would be like without phones and computers?

Lara: It wouldn’t be that bad. I guess it would be a bit annoying not being able to talk to people when they’re not there – say you have a family member in a different place and you can’t – there’d be no way to communicate with them, which would be hard. But I don’t think it would be that bad without Instagram or things like that.

eebudee: What do you like about social media?

Lara: It’s just fun, say with Instagram, to show people what you’re doing and show other people what you’re doing. I have 2 accounts, one private and one public. One has photos of me and things I am doing, and one is for things I see around the place that look cool.

I started with a public account, and I wouldn’t post photos of myself because I just wanted everyone to see the things I see and it’s fun to just do photography. But then I also wanted to post photos of me and my friends doing fun stuff, but I wouldn’t want other people to see that, because I wouldn’t know who they are, so I made a private one as well.

eebudee: That’s a very smart strategy. Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Lara: Probably just for people who are just starting to get it – it’s kind of what everyone says – but just to make sure you don’t post anything you wouldn’t want random people to see.

Conclusion

Kids all over Australia, and the world, are likely to have very different levels of understanding about social media. Naturally, this will depend on a child’s age, the level of social media education provided at their school, and what you as a parent choose to discuss with your child.

Of course, there are many other factors that impact a child’s awareness, like what their peers talk about and do in their own time.

If you want to start educating your child about social media before they start using networks like Instagram and Snapchat, you may like to try our safe social media website, eebudee.com.au, which is in Beta phase right now.

eebudee is an online toolbox you can use to train your child about handling cyber bullying, privacy and other important issues relating to online life. This all happens in a secure online environment, so kids can discover without the repercussions of posting to public social media networks.

eebudee is for kids under 13, their parents, and friends and family.

Head here to learn more. And big thanks to Tom and Lara for taking the time to talk to us about their thoughts on social media, mobiles and the online universe!

 

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Is it illegal to post photos of my kid online?

A lot of articles about whether parents should post images of their kids online have been circulating online lately. Many are focused on the morality of posting photos of an underage person, who does not get to choose if their image is published online.

This is despite the fact that the person posting the image is the child’s parent.

Taking things even further, we’ve seen a spate of court proceedings, where young adults have attempted to prosecute their parents for posting images of them online, while they were underage.

We’re taking a moment to dissect this growing trend.

The issue

Before the advent of social media, photos lived between the private covers of family albums. Today, images of children are plastered on social media for immediate friends, and the world, to see.

We say the world, because when a Friend ‘Likes’ an image on Facebook, all of that person’s immediate Friends and other Friends can see it too. This is the case for most social media networks, but we’ll stay focused on Facebook because it is the most used social media network in the world.

The takeaway here is that when you post an image, it is seen by your Friends, and other people you don’t know.

But what about the little person being photographed?

They are below the age of consent, and may not even want their photograph seen by your immediate Facebook Friends, let alone complete strangers.

And let’s not forget the fact that most of us don’t really know all the people we are Friends with on social media that well at all.

An 18-year-old Austrian woman was so fed up by her parents posting photos of her online, that she filed a lawsuit against them when they refused to remove them.

The facts

  • An 18-year-old Austrian woman found out her parents had shared 500 images of her on Facebook.
  • The woman’s parents had 700 Facebook Friends, who were able to see her in different situations as a baby and young child.
  • This included situations involving nudity.
  • The photos were posted without the woman’s consent.
  • Teen Vogue was reported as saying that the parents did not receive a request from their daughter to remove the images. However, the woman maintains she did request their removal.
  • She took her parents to court to have the pictures removed, and secure financial compensation. (Source: USA Today.)
  • The woman’s father claimed that if he took a photo of his baby, he should have the freedom to choose how it is distributed, and where. (Source: Cosmopolitan.)
  • The woman argued that since the images were shared publicly, it is a violation of her privacy. (Source: USA Today.)
  • The case will be decided in November.

The woman was quoted as saying to an Austrian news outlet:

“They knew no shame and no limit — and didn’t care whether it was a picture of me sitting on the toilet or lying naked in my cot — every stage was photographed and then made public.‌ “

Source: The Local 

So is it illegal to post photos of your children online?

This depends on the privacy laws enacted in your area.

France has some of the strictest privacy laws in the world, with penalties of 45,000 Euros and 1 year in prison for those who publish or distribute images of a person, without obtaining their consent first.

Austrian privacy laws are comparatively less strict. The woman in the aforementioned case must prove the photos violated her right to a personal life. If this can be achieved, her parents could lose the trial.

In Australia the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) governs the unauthorised production and publication of a person’s image.*

The Act regulates the publication of personal information that conveys the identity of a person or allows their identity to be determined.* 

Under Section 6 of the Act, personal information is:

Information or an opinion (including information or an opinion forming part of a database), whether true or not, and whether recorded in a material form or not, about an individual whose identity is apparent, or can reasonably be ascertained, from the information or opinion.*

* Source: Australian Government Australian Institute of Family Studies – Images of children and young people online CFCA Resource Sheet, April 2015 

 What does this mean?

  • If an image allows a child to be identified then it must not be published.
  • This includes any image that allows a third party to determine where a person lives, or what school they attend – for example a photo that includes a child in school uniform.
  • Except when either the parent or guardian and the child consent to the image being published.
  • Given the child must consent to having their image posted online, it is arguable that parents must ask their child for consent before publishing images of them in Australia.
  • Since we don’t have any case law relating to this issue in Australia just yet, we can’t provide a real life example.
  • This is certainly an area of Law that may be explored more thoroughly in the future, as more and more young children from the digital age become adults.
  • Head here for detailed information on obtaining consent, and other issues relating to the Act.

What can I do?

We highly recommend reading this blog about the ethics of posting images of children online. Although we strongly believe every parent should be able to choose how they raise their child in this challenging digital age, we also think it is worth considering the growing legal and moral issues relating to posting images of children online.

Visit our Facebook page to be part of our growing community of parents who want to learn more about raising kids to be healthy and resilient, while still embracing social media and the online world.

If you have an insight or experience to share, please feel free to leave a comment below.

Legal Advice Disclaimer: This information is general in nature. For legal advice around this issue please seek the services of a lawyer or legal professional in your jurisdiction.