Most parents love posting pictures of their kids on social media — and do so without thinking too much about how the grinning buck-naked toddler will feel about said pictures when she’s a self-conscious teenager.
But an 18-year-old in Austria might serve as a warning to all the snap-happy, social media-addicted parents in the world. She’s suing hers for posting embarrassing photographs of her as a child on their Facebook accounts.
The unnamed teenager is claiming that more than 500 images of her have been shared by her parents online since 2009 — without her permission. The collection includes her having her diaper changed and undergoing potty training. Apparently, her parents have refused to delete the pictures (which were shared with their 700 Facebook friends) because they believe they have the right to publish them because they took them.
The teenager said her parents “knew no shame and no limit,” and didn’t care what the images depicted, whether she was naked or using the toilet. And her lawyer thinks she has a strong chance of winning her case when it goes to court in November. Her argument is that her parents violated her rights to a personal life by posting images of her online without her permission. If she’s successful, they may end up having to pay her compensation.
While this case is the first of its kind in Austria, in France anyone found guilty of publishing images of another person without their consent — including parents who publish images of their kids on social media — could face up to one year in prison and a hefty fine.
While there have been no similar cases in the U.S., parents should be aware of a recent University of Michigan study, which found that children ages 10 to 17 were “really concerned” about how much their parents shared of their lives online. It’s all very well when our kids are too young to be aware of what we do with the photos we take of them, but when they’re old enough to care about their digital presence, they might not be too happy. Nowadays, it’s normal for a newborn’s first picture to be shared on Facebook or Instagram, and thus begins a childhood of weekly, daily or even hourly snapshots of their life.
Obviously, parents do this with the best of intentions, but one day that naked toddler will grow up and might just decide she doesn’t want the internet to see her buck naked. We guess the lesson here is to listen to your kids. If they want you to delete certain images of them from your social media accounts, respect their decision and do it. When they reach a certain age — basically whenever they actually care about their privacy — ask them before you post a picture online. That way, hopefully, you’ll still be able to share some of those special moments, and they won’t feel disrespected or violated.
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