This post originally appeared in the Lancaster Guardian in February 2015.
February 10th was Safer Internet Day with the theme of ‘Lets create a better internet together”.
The day was about understanding the positives of the online world, but also highlighted that as many as a third of young people are still being bullied on-line.
I do, of course, worry about some of the things that young people share on-line, but I must say that I worry more about what is perhaps the elephant in the room – what parents are sharing about their children.
I was interviewed by a Radio 4 researcher a while ago about Revenge Porn, a behaviour where jilted partners maliciously share intimate images of their exes online as revenge for being dumped. This is clearly very distressing and was made illegal last year. However adults are sharing images of their children from foetal scans, to naked bath time pictures and the child has no say in this whatsoever.
Children being born now are having their entire lives shared publicly. What will they think when they grow up? It was bad enough when our mums got out the baby pictures to show our new boyfriend, but now we are seeing parents disrespecting each other and their children on social media. We forget that this stuff stays around and can be found by all sorts of people sometime in the future.
What on earth would George Orwell say about it all? Can you imagine how we would respond if a government asked us to hand over all of our personal information and every detail of our child’s lives? And yet now we have Facebook providing the tools for this and we dive in headfirst shouting Yippee, without a thought for the long term consequences.
I am aware that many adults do not understand privacy settings, or reach, and are mortified when I explain that those bath time photos could appear on a total strangers Facebook wall. But then I saw that a business coach had posted images of her naked young girls on her business page – which she knows is totally public. Why would she do that?
Adults must act as positive role models for our young people, which means that we have to provide opportunities for parents to learn and ask questions about safe use of the internet and social media if we are going to support our children. I am currently discussing working with parents via local schools. If any community groups would like to get involved to make this happen, please do get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org .
Stay safe on line!
If you would like to talk to Jane about working with your organisation please email email@example.com