‘Sharenting’ or the practice of uploading photos of children to social networks: when the child is a trophy | Technology
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We are becoming more and more used to broadcasting our lives entirely on social networks. We meet the baby of a college friend thanks to Instagram. We know when her first tooth fell out or how she celebrated her fifth birthday, like the protagonist of the truman show (1998). This reality has a name: sharing. The ANAR Foundation, defender of the rights of children and adolescents, Explain which comes from the English words Compartir (share) and parenting (paternity) and consists of documenting and sharing on the networks everything that children do since they are small.
In Spain, 89% of families share their children’s content on Facebook, Instagram or TikTok about once a month, according to the EU Kids Online report prepared in 2019. However, experts stress the importance of not forgetting that minors who star in these contents are holders of fundamental rights such as their own image, honor and privacy, collected in article 18 of the Spanish Constitution.
”They are already born with those rights. Sometimes we are not very aware and think that, being our children, we are the ones who have those rights. The first thing is to know that they are in them and that we have to protect their privacy, their intimacy and their security,” explains Diana Díaz, director of ANAR’s help lines. In 2019, this foundation signed, together with the Spanish Agency for Data Protection, the Charter of Digital Rights of Children and Adolescents, which includes the guarantees that must protect this group.
According to the lawyer Raquel Pérez, from CivilFour, the key idea in the publication of photos on social networks can be reduced to one word: consent. “When publishing photos of them on social networks, both parents have to agree to that publication and, of course, the photo must respect their honor and reputation,” she summarizes.
But not only is the consent of both parents important, but that of the children themselves when they have sufficient maturity. “The minor can decide that he does not want any image to be published if he is old enough to understand that he implies that this image is circulating,” insists the lawyer. According to the aforementioned study, only 24% of parents claim to have asked their children’s permission before uploading digital material about them. Luis de la Herrán, a clinical psychologist, focuses on the question that leads to sharing the growth of children through social networks: “Why do I share it? To brag? Why do I need to prove something because I feel inferior? To share, show off or because something needs to be demonstrated, the son or daughter is being placed in an object or trophy position and it is evident that there is a good chance that it may affect the child in question and that they feel like an object. ”.
Despite not finding studies that support it, common sense leads him to think that it may be a risk variable and that it could affect self-esteem due to the image that may be had of the minor and that he understands that he has to continue to maintain . The ANAR telephone director relates self-esteem with the construction of values and with one’s own identity. ”If the family focuses a lot on spreading photographs and that these return a perfect image of how we have to be, how we have to pose, what is beautiful, etc., that generates a mentality,” she explains. Apart from that, she considers that the very fact of disseminating images of a private, intimate and family nature ”also conveys the message that it is important to publish everything that happens in our lives without reflection”. Víctor Renobell, sociologist and researcher on topics such as education and communication on-line among others, agrees that, when images of a child are uploaded, the publication on the networks is especially sensitive because they are being formed as a social being, so they have to learn the guidelines and norms of the society in which they live, and insists: “You have to know how to involve them.”
According to Renobell, this practice began a decade ago with the rise of social networks. Until then, society was used to interacting in a more closed and private environment, such as a bar. “That is what we have lived generation after generation and now we transfer it to social networks. We strike up conversations as if we were at the bar,” she explains. The problem is that in the digital context everything is recorded and, therefore, it is very different: “It’s as if every time I go to the bar I have a big brother, as if there were cameras recording all the situations.” Despite the consequences it may have, he defends that it is not about criminalizing social networks, but about realizing what is going to be used. “We are not aware of what the use implies. Although there is more and more pedagogy, we have not yet reached a knowledge ”, she concludes.
The director of research and awareness of the computer security company ESET in Spain, Josep Albors, agrees on the importance of technological education: ”As parents have become more accustomed to the use of technology, these types of images have become shared more often. The problem is that parents are not educated in the problems and dangers that it can bring, not only now, but also when that child is already an adolescent and even an adult.”
The risks of sharenting
Possibly the most worrying risk involved in this custom is that the images end up on the deep internet, in the hands of pedophiles or among materials shared on child pornography networks, according to Albors. The expert insists that, although “any image we upload to the Internet can end up anywhere,” if a photograph of minors on the beach is published, for example, “for a pedophile or for someone who traffics These types of photographs will be much more useful to them than an image of them being with the family and dressed (fully)”. Even if the parents “have published them with all the good intentions in the world to show the relatives, they can end up falling into the hands of the unscrupulous,” he explains.
In addition to that, the ANAR representative explains that in recent years they have detected that ”the girls themselves sometimes have attitudes of older women, hyper-focused on the image, to be liked. This may also be detrimental to their own evolutionary development”. On the other hand, Díaz emphasizes that she can even affect in the future, at the labor level, in selection processes, causing her some damage.
Tips to avoid danger
Although it would be best not to share any images of children, if parents decide to upload them to a social network, experts recommend that they limit access to that information. Josep Albors is in favor of setting up private profiles and allowing only people you trust to see the photos: ”The best thing is that they do not leave the closest family nucleus and try to avoid putting them on platforms that can be accessed publicly easily, like Instagram, Facebook or Twitter, and instead try to share them on messaging services and in groups with people you trust a lot. Sociologist Renobell highlights the rise of social networks of a more intimate nature, such as WhatsApp groups, in which “it surely makes more sense to publish certain types of information and images.”
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