By Ghadeer Ghloum
KUWAIT: Children have a right to control their own image and determine what aspects of their lives are shared with others. Therefore, when it comes to posting photos of children, an ethical line may be crossed, especially in this digital era of social media dominance, where sharing photos and updates about our lives has become second nature to people of all ages alike, including parents who tend to post pictures of their children on social media platforms.
To delve into the negative effects of posting photos of children on social media, touching upon privacy concerns, potential emotional effects and the issue of consent, Kuwait Times interviewed Dr Ali Al-Baghlani, a specialist in psychiatry, and Mariam, a mother of two toddlers, besides highlighting a previous statement by attorney Fajer Ahmed in this regard.
Long-term consequences on the child’s life As children grow older, they may have different opinions about their digital image and may not appreciate certain photos being readily available for public viewing, especially since pictures on social media are not easy to remove or control due to the wide and fast spread of whatever content is shared. Dr Baghlani told Kuwait Times the primary concern associated with posting photos of children on social media is the violation of their privacy.
By posting their photos without their consent, parents might unintentionally expose their children to unintended consequences, as photos may be viewed by strangers, who can misuse or exploit them for various purposes. Posting children’s pictures on social media platforms can also have emotional outcomes. While parents may have good intentions and celebrate their child’s milestones or achievements, the child may feel pressured to maintain a specific image or strive for validation and approval based on the reactions that they receive from these posts, leading to prioritizing fame and digital appreciation over their real life, quality time and important responsibilities, such as their education.
Child protection law Moreover, in a previous statement reported by Kuwait Times, attorney Fajer Ahmed said: “It is not permitted to publish images of children or produce images of children or share images of children that are against the norms of society. For example, making children dress or apply makeup that is not appropriate for their age.” She also said: “Children cannot be used by adults to gain fame or monetary benefits. Children cannot be put through any emotional abuse by any images that may humiliate them.”
Impact on parents’ relationship with each other Mariam told Kuwait Times that making one’s child famous on social media not only has an impact on the child’s life, but also on the parents’ lives. “The act of posting photos of children on social media can also cause conflicts in relationships, because parents may disagree on what should and should not be shared, and this happens very often. So, continuous conflicts and disagreements may arise regarding which part and how much of their child’s life will be exposed online.
This can affect the child’s emotional well-being and peaceful upbringing. Also, sharing photos without asking the children can destroy the relationship between parents and their children, since it may cause trust issues,” she said. Parents may feel pressure to present an idealized version of their child’s life, leading to an unrealistic portrayal. Additionally, comparing children’s lifestyle and achievements can foster unhealthy competition among parents and children. Hence, it is necessary for parents to prioritize their child’s privacy and safety, while finding a balance that allows them to share meaningful moments with the public.