What digital footprint do you give to your child?

If we are not public figures, we have the right to decide who and what to publish or make public about us. We can contribute to, we can tolerate to but we can also protest against a post or a publication – because our image, our voice is the imprint of our personality and deserves special protection.

The protection of the personality rights belongs to the child, too

This should also be the case for children: the parent is responsible for enforcing the child’s personality rights. Yet it is the parent who, in many cases, does not think carefully about the consequences and effects of a post or considers his or her own interests to be more important than the needs and the rights of the child.

Think about it: we, as adults, need to be asked for our consent to a post or publication about us, and we can protest if it happens against our will. But does a child do that?

The internet does not forget

Children are either not in a position to protest (because they are young; because they do not know that they should be allowed to object in such cases; because they do not even know that they are “used”; because it does not occur to them that what is happening is not okay), or no-one thinks they should have a say in that. But the consequences fall back on them. They will be the ones who, before the age of 13 (so before they could legally have their own Facebook profiles), already have very massive digital footprints (i.e. indelible sets of online data and information) through the online activities of their parents and other adults, though they did not even know about it or were not asked for their consent and opinion.

Capturing the passing moment… and sharing it

According to an American survey, 63% of mothers use Facebook, of which 97% have already posted pictures of their children. We can love or hate it, use or reject it, but Facebook, Instagram, and other social sites have become part of our lives. And with a smartphone, it takes only a gesture to capture the passing moment and then to share it with our friends. It all happens so fast that many times we do not even think through the possible consequences or risks of a post.

If we look at it from the parents’ side, Facebook is very good for old dear acquaintances, distant relatives, and friends to see the children, their development and thus to be part of the family life – at least on that level.

Do our “messages” reach the people who we sent them to?

There are parents for whom Facebook is an interface where they can live out and show their own maternal/paternal role, and through that they can ensure that their friends, from whom life has physically drifted them away, do not get too far emotionally – maintaining the connection, the bond. A lot of people tell very funny stories about their children – the question, of course, is whether those who actually see these stories and pictures are the ones who the parents intended to show them and who really deserves them.

This is the translation of this Hungarian article on Yelon.hu.