Like most parents around the world, Israeli parents like to talk about their children online. Photos of the newborn or that first smile; a video with the first steps, the first visit to the swimming pool, parties, outings, family moments; then maybe messages with funny stories, intriguing questions, and even sensitive conversations, like a teenager revealing to the parent that he’s not binary. This behavior even has a name: shareor document your child’s life online.
It’s everywhere, and as people notice that posts about kids are doing well, leading to more likes, comments, and shares, they continue this behavior. The supplement dopamine hit that accompanies every positive social media interaction seems almost irresistible, and “if everyone is doing it, surely there’s nothing wrong with it.”
I am a mother of three children, also a lawyer and currently doing my doctorate in privacy and data protection. Perhaps before being a mother, or before studying privacy more deeply, all of these questions would have seemed very innocuous and untroubling to me. However, today I see it very differently. When parents talk about their children online, in almost every case I can think of, they do so for themselves, not for the benefit of the child. Instead of sharing a momentous occasion with the child – celebrating or having a unique parent-child moment in private or with an intimate circle (which would reflect real-life connections), the parent decides to show it to a much larger audience online. . And when sharing that moment online, the social media motto applies: the cuter the photo, video or post, the more likes and comments it receives. And that it feels good for the author of the message.
Social media companies, those corporate behemoths that are so influential in today’s culture and the way we connect with each other, are the ones that normalize and benefit from excessive sharing. More personal data uploaded by users means more profit for them, advertising profiles being more accurate, there is more ad consumption in the platform, and the culture of “online sharing” is fueled to keep the endless cycle going.
I’m not here to dictate what good parenting should look like or what the right amount of online sharing is. But I’d like to suggest that many parents are so caught up in the “post-dopamine” cycle (promoted by social media itself) that they forget what’s behind it all: they give away their children’s privacy for something as trivial as tastes.
First, there is the issue of lack of consent, because children are sometimes too small to understand what is going on, and even when they can understand and consent, they are not consulted by parent. But it is perfectly possible that in a few years the child will be very unhappy to find out that so many private moments were shared online by the parent. Remember that we parents are a different generation, and what we find acceptable and cute they might find inexcusable and scary. Anything uploaded online, even just “for friends”, has the potential to circulate forever because it only takes one screenshot or a new upload.
Second, there is serious privacy and security issues with sharing anything about a child or adolescent online, including impersonation, exposing the child to predators and Harassment on the internet. Depending on the age of the child, mental health and trust issues can arise with a parent who cannot respect the child’s boundaries and intimate wishes.
The bottom line, in my opinion, is that parents should be more aware of the dopamine posting cycle established by social media (for their own gain), the privacy and security risks, and the possible consequences of doing so. lack of consent. of the child. They need to ask themselves the following questions: Does it make sense to post it online instead of celebrating it privately with my child or face-to-face with friends? Will my child benefit in any way from my position? Can I publish it without exposing my child? In a few years, will my child be happy to find out that I posted this? Would I be happy knowing that my parents shared everything about me with strangers or distant friends?
Being a parent is not easy and technology brings additional challenges that we must try to overcome. To help you, I recently recorded a video on this topic. You can watch it below and share in the comments the challenges you yourself have faced dealing with your children’s privacy.
Luiza was born in Brazil and immigrated to Israel in 2018. She is a lawyer and is currently doing her PhD in privacy and data protection at Tel Aviv University. In 2020, she received from the President of Israel the “President’s Scholarship for Excellence in Science and Innovation” for her doctoral research. She speaks 6 languages and is learning Hebrew while being a mother of 3 children.