What Parents Can Learn From Fight Over Facebook

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Photo by Corbis

When Welsh father Douglas Holmes’ partner Lisa Evans took a video of his 4-year-old daughter acting as an inn keeper in a school play last week and posted it to her personal Facebook page, Holmes found himself in hot water with his child’s school. Holmes, 30, told The South Wales Evening Post that the following day, a teacher at Ynysboeth Primary School — who also appeared in the video – wanted it removed. The video defied a school rule: Parents have to keep school pictures and videos off the Internet. There are children in school under court orders and administrators fear that some parents may discover the whereabouts of their children through posted pictures.

Marsali S. Hancock, president and CEO of iKeepSafe.org (an organization that educates on safe practices involving technology and the Internet), tells Yahoo Parenting there is an expectation of child privacy at school. In fact, The South Wales Evening Post reported that the head teacher informed parents that photographing or videotaping the school production was fine—as long nothing was shared on social media. Still, Holmes was upset. “I was very angry when she came back from the school and told me they wanted her to take it down. We should be allowed to share our daughter’s experience with other people if we want to,” he told the The South Wales Evening Post.

“Every parent has their own parenting style and that includes expectations for privacy,” says Hancock. “This father wants to share his child’s experience but does not realize that his sharing impacts the privacy of the others included. Because it is a school program it involved students, teachers, staff members and parent volunteers.” She suggests that parents only post photos of their own children on social media instead of exposing other people’s children without consent. If a photo or video includes other children, “Take the time to blur or edit out the personally identifiable information on the video,” she says.

Other parents will be grateful for the discretion. A recent Pew research study found that 57 percent of parents strongly dislike people posting pictures of other people’s children without asking for permission. Hancock says these parents should inquire whether privacy is taught at school and then push to see what skills are being taught to students, educators and parents.

Also, ask what privacy protections are used at school. “Accountability is huge. Parents have the right to know what systems are in place to respond to privacy incidents,” says Hancock. “Who is the privacy lead on campus? Where do parents go when they become aware of privacy concerns? And push for rules to be posted on the school’s website.”

Hancock says if you see a photo of your child on Facebook that you don’t want on Facebook, contact the company using this form to have it removed—if the child is under the age of 13, Facebook will likely take it down. “It’s also OK to tell the parent who posted the photo that you don’t want them to do that again,” she says.

What’s more, some families may be dealing with situations like restraining orders or foster care. Posting information (photos and locations) about a child or parent has the potential to put them at risk.

This isn’t just a problem across the pond. Here in the states, mothers like Erika Elmuts of ConsciousParenting.org told Today Moms  that she shares photos of her daughter via email and not on social media. Then she saw that a friend of her ex had posted “literally hundreds of pictures” of her child on Facebook. Elmuts told the friend to remove the photos, which caused the woman to unfriend her. And stay-at-home mom Sonia Rao told Huff Post Parents that she’s uncomfortable having her 1-year-old child’s pictures on Facebook, which is why she prefers to post photos of her dog on instagram – safe bet if you ask us.  

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