Be careful when sharing children's photos

As cute or funny as children's photos often are, sharing them on social media, carries risks such as cyberbullying and privacy violations. Parents should proceed cautiously and respect their children's privacy.

Mother takes a picture of her child with her cell phone.

Cute today. Embarrassing tomorrow? Parents should think carefully about whether and where to post pictures of their children. © iStock

Many parents share photos and videos of their children on social media. With "sharenting" - a compound of "to share" and "parenting" - there is even a term for this behavior. Mostly, parents are concerned with sharing and celebrating their children's special moments and milestones with family and friends.

But this well-intentioned approach, carries risks. Children can become the target of cyberbullying or stalking. In addition, sharing content leaves digital traces. Thus, without the child's consent, a digital identity is created that can harm them, as it can be accessed anytime, anywhere, and the content can be easily changed.

The crux of AI

The danger is exacerbated by the increasing prevalence of artificial intelligence (AI). Using facial recognition, AI algorithms can automatically identify and collect images of children. This can be used to create profiles of the children, which can be used for advertising purposes or even to create pornographic content.

In addition, AI systems are able to recognize and evaluate children's characteristics and preferences based on images and texts. Deepfakes, manipulative content generated by means of AI, represent a further risk.
It is important that parents are aware of the risks and act responsibly. Those who take the following tips to heart will do a lot for the safety and privacy of their children.

  • Take photos consciously
    When taking pictures, already make sure that the children are not directly recognizable. 
  • Conceal faces
    If necessary, use smileys, blur and mosaic effects to make faces unrecognizable.
  • Share wisely
    Think carefully about what information and images you share, and especially with whom. Pictures of scantily clad or even naked children, no matter how funny they may be, do not belong on the Internet under any circumstances. 
  • Use security settings
    Social media platforms allow various privacy settings. Make sure that only trusted people have access to the shared content.
  • Involve children
    Provided your children are older, talk to them about the risks of the Internet and explain why and which pictures of them and their siblings or friends are being shared. Clarify with them whether they agree to this. Children also have a right to privacy. 
  • Ask other parents
    Never post unsolicited photos online that show other children - class or group photos, for example. You must get permission from parents to post them.

By behaving responsibly, it is possible to balance the desire to share precious moments with the need to protect children's privacy and safety in the digital world.

Ratgeber Digital und Sicher

Digitally secure

Boost your digital immune system.