Little girl posing and mother photographing her with smart phone
Little girl posing and mother photographing her with smart phone

Parents need ‘permission’ to post kid pics

Before parents take and share photos of their child, they should ask for their permission, says the government's online safety watchdog.

The safety of children online will be front and centre on Tuesday as millions of Australians participate in activities to mark Safer Internet Day.

As part of the push for digital safety, the eSafety Commissioner is set to release a booklet that outlines how children under the age of five should be protected.

In it are guidelines explaining children as young as two should be asked for permission before their parents take a photo of them.

 

Parents should ask for permission to take and share pictures of their children, according to a booklet ‘Online safety for under 5s’ released on Tuesday by the eSafety Commissioner. Picture: iStock
Parents should ask for permission to take and share pictures of their children, according to a booklet ‘Online safety for under 5s’ released on Tuesday by the eSafety Commissioner. Picture: iStock

"Do the same before you share a photo or write something about them on social media," it reads.

"Let them know who will see it, why you want to share it and respect their decision if they don't want to share it."

In the booklet it explains that while it "may seem silly to ask permission from a two-year-old", particularly as children can't legally give consent to share their image, the point is to "model consent and respectful data sharing practices", adding the practice will come in handy when they start to share photos online.

 

 

 

"Be mindful of what you share online about your child, as this may form part of their lasting digital footprint," the booklet states.

Parents are also encouraged to foster healthy usage habits, positive online behaviour and a care for personal safety.

Research by Australia's eSafety Commissioner's Office reveals the majority (94 per cent) of parents want their child to be safe online; however, almost a third of parents do not understand how to use the safety features on their child's social media, apps and games.

 

The booklet is available online and can also be ordered free of charge for Australian residents and educational services. Picture: iStock
The booklet is available online and can also be ordered free of charge for Australian residents and educational services. Picture: iStock

"While parents might think they have a ­handle on their child's use of Instagram or even Snapchat, you'd be surprised how many parents don't know that a gaming site like Fortnite pairs their child with 99 other players, and there is text and audio interaction accompanying that," eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant told The Australian.

"Similarly with TikTok, which has a chat function. The internet has created a vast repository for predators to groom unsuspecting young people."

She said both parents and educators needed to consider the risk when sharing children's images online.

 

Almost a third of parents do not understand how to use the safety features on their child’s social media, apps and games. Picture: iStock
Almost a third of parents do not understand how to use the safety features on their child’s social media, apps and games. Picture: iStock

"By involving them early, we can foster sound habits and establish the resilience and critical thinking they will need if a stranger with malicious intent tries to solicit their image online or if they are tempted to share a compromising photo of a friend online. And we have seen this can happen with children as young as three," Ms Inman Grant told The Daily Telegraph.

While it may come as a surprise to some, children as young as two or three are often extensive users of the internet for entertainment and education, which is why Minister for Communications Paul Fletcher emphasised the importance of educating young Australians on the risks of the internet.

The booklet is available online and can also be ordered free of charge for Australian residents and educational services.