image showing two children on a blanket looking at tablets
Andrea Gurniak

We are fortunate to live in an age where we can capture high quality images on our smart phones then immediately share those images with friends and family anywhere in the world. However, this advantage also comes with important things to remember for keeping us and our loved ones safe.

Back in my day (and I’m sure yours) most people didn’t get their first cell phone until they were at least 14 years old. When we finally got our hands on one, it was a “pay-as-you-go” brick that had a small black and white screen—no internet, no games, and you could forget about any sort of camera capabilities! This meant that we had to take photos with a traditional camera, get them printed, then days after we initially took the photos, bring them to school to show our friends. While this definitely wasn’t as convenient as sharing photos via Instagram or text, it did minimize the risk of our photos getting into the wrong hands. It also gave you time to reconsider posting a photo that seemed like a great idea but in hindsight was a little embarrassing. In 2020, children as young as 8 years old are getting their first phones; so, aside from monitoring what they are viewing online, we also need to be aware of what they are posting online.

Three important points to discuss with your kids before they begin posting images on social media

Ask before posting photos of family or friends

Asking before we share is something that we have to be mindful of when we are posting to social platforms, especially if the subjects in our photos do not have social media or if their accounts are private. This is an easy one to forget, especially if you are in a group setting and there are multiple people in the photo. It doesn’t hurt to let your friends know that you are planning on sharing this photo to Instagram before you snap the shot.

This goes hand in hand with removing a photo if someone asks you to. It is always important to be respectful of someone else’s request when it comes to sharing photos of others whether they want it removed because they don’t like the way they look, or because they do not want their photos online at all.

Instagram and Facebook have features such as “tag location” that you can add to any post, so it is understandable that many parents do not want photos of themselves or their children shared online. Tagging your location is often popular when you are travelling because let’s face it, people like to brag about where they are in the world! However, this feature can be particularly dangerous for anyone but especially teens. You most likely wouldn’t post your exact itinerary online, and tagging your location is somewhat similar. If your teenager wants to post their awesome Summer vacay photos online this is totally fine, it just might not be the best idea to do it “real-time.”

Noah Asanias

Posting is permanent

We have all been there. It may seem like a great idea to share a photo because you think it is funny, or because it will get you more followers. Posting something that ends up being inappropriate can have its consequences especially if it happens to “go viral.” Cyber bullying, putting yourself at risk for predators to start chatting with you, or even jeopardize a future job opportunity down the line are all things to consider before hitting post. It might be helpful to tell your teenagers that a good rule of thumb is to not be posting anything that they would not want you to see online. It is also wise to treat your online presence the same as your offline presence: if you wouldn’t do or say something in real life in front of your friends and family then it most likely isn’t appropriate to say online either.

What you think is private may not stay private

It is important to remember that any images that you choose to share with others may end up in the hands of people that you did not intend them to. When sharing photos with friends via text message, these images could be shown to anyone, they could also be texted to other people, or saved on the device and shared months or years later online.

Copyright is another thing that should be kept in mind when sharing photos. Instagram and Facebooks privacy policy states that they do not own your photos once you post them; however, those platforms reserve the right to use them royalty free and use them wherever they would like. Although this isn’t likely to happen, it is definitely something for your children to be aware of when they are posting content of themselves and their friends online.

Share security tips and advice more than once

Keeping up to date with technology, whether it be with a smart phone or a tablet is important in this day and age. And you can more safely expose your children to technology without attaching a data plan to the device and limiting Wi-Fi in order to keep them safe while learning. Equally important is to keep up to date on ways to stay safe and to keep others safe online. Part of that includes respecting other people’s wishes about posting images of them online. It also includes being mindful that what you post online may be there for many years to come and be seen by future colleagues, employers ….

Here is my final tip: A fun way for your kids to use their images without posting online is to create a photo book. Check out this article by Noah Asinias on how to create the perfect photo album.

Do you have any tips to add to this discussion? Let me know in the comments. As I said, sharing tips is the best way for us to enjoy our images in the safest way possible.

Andrea Wong
I am a professional portrait photographer in Vancouver with 12 years of experience as well as an in-house photographer for Best Buy Canada. Aside from photography, I live the mom-life daily and run a subscription box company called Little Kaktus Co!