Safety Watchdog Urges Parents to Seek Toddler’s Permission to Post Photos Online

Teaching our toddlers all the important life lessons is a tricky task. One issue is they rarely listen. Plus, there are a lot of life lessons to take in. Be kind. Share your toys. Be respectful of others. Don’t lick the cat.

One of the ways we teach our toddlers is by modelling these life lessons and good behaviour in front of them and this is also the case when it comes to our relationship with our screens.

Recently the eSafety Commissioner issued a new booklet that outlines safe online practices for Australians aged younger than five and their families. The booklet explains that parents need to be encouraging positive online behaviour, modelling good habits and asking their toddlers for permission to take their photo and post it online. 

Ask before you post 

According to the eSafety Commissioner, Australia has a problem with “over-sharing” or “sharenting” on social media and our super cute toddlers are often the ones in the spotlight, even though they are too young to consent to it.

The guidelines suggest:

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

Before you take a photo of your child, ask their permission from an early age. Do the same before you share a photo or write something about them on social media.” 

The warning is outlined in the Early Years, Online Safety for Under 5s’ booklet which will be handed out in Canberra today to mark Safer Internet Day. It will later be rolled out to preschools around the country and parents will also be able to download the guide.

asking permission to post photos online

The dark side of the overshare

E-safety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant reminds parents that although the snapshots of our toddlers devouring yoghurt may be innocent and adorable, there is danger in it too.

“We are creating a child’s digital footprint, sometimes from when they are in the womb and there is a dark side.”

Asking our toddlers’ permission to post these photos can better “establish the resilience and critical thinking they will need if a stranger with malicious intent tries to solicit their image online. You just have to stop and think and be sensible about it,” she says.

baby screen time
‘Look Mummy, I’ve got 21 likes.’ Source: Bigstock

To post or not to post

Of course, social media influencers, especially parenting social media influencers are not buying it. After all, do toddlers have the capability to understand what social media is all about? Most kids simply want to smile for the camera because it’s a fun thing to do.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve posted (way) too many pictures of my daughter on social media and haven’t asked her permission once. But she’s one. And she can’t say No or Yes yet.

But perhaps when she’s older, she will be against it. And perhaps because she’s too little to understand, I should be leaving her offline until she is able to consent to it.

Oversharing can impact our kids more than we think 

After all, cute yogurt-eating toddlers grow up to be strong-willed, opinionated teenagers. Case in point? Recently a Reddit user shared her experience, explaining:

I am a teenager and my mom is kinda famous on Instagram and blogging. She had a mummy blog when I was growing up and of course me and my sister [sic] were always involved.

It sucks because there’s so much out there about us and it’s what’s gonna come up when I’m looking for a job, when I’m dating, when anyone looks up my name. I am sick of being a part of it, I had “NO PHOTOS” hoodies printed for me and my little sister. Am I the asshole?”

Reddit users all agreed that, nope, she’s not the asshole. Mum is. And, well, maybe they are right. Maybe oversharing now can cause issues down the road? But do you think we need to be asking our toddlers if we can take their photo or is that a little too much?

Even more parenting problems

Of course, this isn’t the first time there’s been a debate about what’s right and what’s wrong in the parenting world. Remember when parenting experts suggested we ask our babies and toddlers if it’s okay to change their nappy? It started a grand social media debate with parents weighing in on both sides.

There is also the question of whether we should be using nicknames for private parts with our kids. Or, should we be open from the get-go and teach the kids that it’s a vagina and a penis?

Bottom line? Parents, the ‘right’ way to raise our kids are constantly changing and very contradictory.  If you’re completely confused and pretty sure you’re messing it all up, then you’re most likely doing it right.

But, perhaps, as a general guideline, swap the settings on your social media to “private” when posting baby in the bath pics. You know, just in case…


Avatar of Jenna Galley

Born and raised in Canada, Jenna now lives in Far North Queensland with her tribe. When the mum-of-three is not writing, you can find her floating in the pool, watching princess movies, frolicking on the beach, bouncing her baby to sleep or nagging her older kids to put on their pants.

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