At least 30% of parents share a photo or video of their children on social networks every day. This is a very high percentage, which is on the rise, and raises the question of the risks that this practice may have for the minors themselves.
Grooming is a practice whereby an adult impersonates a minor on the Internet with unlawful intentions
So much so, that this common practice already has its own name: sharenting. This word, of Anglo-Saxon origin, is used to define the sharing of photographs or videos on social networks of our children -or nephews, nieces, or friends’ children- on a daily basis or during special periods such as vacations, carnivals, school parties, and so on.
This is an action that parents -or relatives- do without any intention, unconsciously, and possibly they have not stopped to think that it can have negative consequences for the children and even put them in danger. Overexposing children on social networks, even without the child’s permission, can put them at certain risks:
-Groominggrooming: This word of English origin, grooming, refers to the action of an adult who, through social networks, pretends to be another minor in order to gain the trust of the child. By accessing the photographs and videos posted by their parents, they can have access to information about their place of residence, their tastes, the name of their pet… With this information, they can start a conversation both in person and through social networks with the child and gain their trust with unclear intentions.
-Cyberbullying: The information that is exposed about minors on social networks can lead to people with unlawful intentions being able to contact them for extortion or harassment.
-Fingerprinting: It is important to be aware that any photograph or video of children that is published publicly on the Internet builds the children’s digital footprint. Moreover, they have not given permission for its publication, and may feel violated when as teenagers they see that information about them has been shared that they did not want. This information posted about minors could also harm them in their work environments or with their friends in the future.
How to avoid the dangers of Sharenting
First of all, awareness is fundamental. Being aware of the risks that exposing minors on social networks can entail will allow parents to think twice about the content they are going to publish about their children. This does not mean that nothing will be published -although it is the safest option to avoid access to information about minors- but at least it will be done in a conscious way.
Using a closed profile, to which only people who really know each other have access, means having additional control over who can access the content that is published on social networks. In this sense, you should not accept as a follower anyone you do not fully trust.
It is estimated that more than 10% of parents have fully public profiles on social networks such as Instagram or Facebook. On the latter, more than 45% allow their children’s images to be seen by all their contacts.
Uploading content anonymously, without providing geolocation data, tagging possible profiles of minors, etc., would also be advisable, as well as reviewing the privacy of any publication.
Proper use of passwords to access different programs and online services will make it more difficult for anyone to gain access to information about minors. In the same way, using antivirus software will prevent unauthorized access to our computers.
It should be noted that the image of any minor -like that of any other person- is a personal data and can be used to identify him/her. That is why it is protected information, as stated in article 3 of the Data Protection Law. It corresponds to their parents or legal guardians the function of watching over this right.