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Cybersecurity 07 Mar 2018

Do parents safeguard their children’s digital image?

There is no greater source of pride in the world than to see our children get ahead in life. Their achievements, their charms... It can be marvelous to share each moment of their progress with family members, friends and work colleagues. But is it a good idea to do so on social networks? Is this the right place to share this information?

Social networks have transformed people’s lives into a sort of Truman Show. Everything our little ones do is posted; videos, even live videos, are shared. But ask yourself: Does the rest of the world need to know who they are, how they look, where they live…? Our children haven’t yet reached the age in which they can request privacy. It would be better to give them the option when they can exercise their own judgment.

Like Truman, whose life was publicly broadcast without his knowing, upcoming generations are immortalized in social media--from the time they are embryos--through photographs, videos and audio messages, without their having any say in the matter. Even before they get a social security number, many children have a digital identity available to the world, based on the information parents choose to share.

This digital identity is searchable on Google, which means we can frequently find a great deal of material on our children, with very little information.

Right to privacy

The Data Protection Law, which is soon due to be updated to bring it in line with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) does not prohibit publishing photographs of our children on social networks. This means that it is the parent’s duty to defend their children's right to privacy and personal identity, to look after the unhindered development of their personality, and to put their interests before the interests of those of adults who handle their data.

Therefore, before uploading and sharing images of minors, it is essential to consider these rights, to reflect on whether these images could leave them exposed in some way and put their security and privacy at risk. It is also important to weigh the fallout that images could have on the life of a minor, both in the present and future, given that everything that posted on the internet endures through time.

The first “Truman babies” on Facebook are already 13 and are discovering their own life story as recorded by their parents from birth. What happens when they become aware of this digital fingerprint? Will they accept it? Will they feel comfortable with it? Will it cause them personal problems or conflicts?

The information posted about them on the internet might appear inoffensive in the eyes of family and friends. However, this can be a source of taunts, insults and disparagement in the hands of others. Let’s not forget about the realities of cyber-bullying and grooming. Some photographs and videos may be embarrassing for the minor and make them feel uncomfortable.

It is also important to bear in mind the impact of this digital fingerprint on the future of one’s career. A number of studies show that 87% of companies consult job candidates’ social media profiles before hiring. Could a child’s photograph contravene the values of a company and jeopardize his or her professional future? Taking part in a demonstration, an insignia, a flag, even a hobby could be sufficient grounds to be ruled out of a selection process.

This new scenario invites reflection and the exercise of common sense, knowing the risks and implications of posting on social networks, and assuming the responsibility to protect the interests of minors and their security rights.

The digital fingerprint of our children belongs to them alone. Let’s help protect it.