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Posting your child on social networks: what risks do we take?

First candle, first steps, holidays, back to school, parties … many of us proudly publish photos or videos of our offspring on social networks. This exhibition, which seems so natural to us, is not, however, trivial. Dr Thierry Delcourt, child psychiatrist, reveals the risks to us.

Why do we feel the need to publicize our children in this way?

Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Snapchat… According to a study1 by the cybersecurity company McAffee, a quarter of parents (24%) publish a photo or video of their child (ren) at least once a day on the networks social. Among them, a quarter even do so more than four times daily. A common practice, which has become almost a reflex and which, according to Dr Thierry Delcourt, child psychiatrist, vice-president of the National Union of Private Psychiatrists and author, testifies to a certain “naivety”: “90% of parents act automatically. take a photo of their child, find it pretty and post it on the Internet, without measuring the scope of their gesture, without trying to find out where the photo goes and what its impact will be “. What could be more normal in wanting to show your friends pictures that you are proud of? We all like to highlight our greatest success or show our loved ones that adorable face that looks so much like us!

Immortalizing moments of joy remains a legitimate reaction: we were already doing it with paper photos. However, publishing them on the Web is different: by sharing them with as many people as possible, including only virtual acquaintances, we make our life an ideal showcase, in which our children are the main protagonists. “This translates in parents a kind of uninhibited egoism and a certain narcissistic fragility: we showcase ourselves through our child.” From a trophy, it indeed becomes a foil. Liked, commented on, the publications about him are so successful that they give us the feeling of existing. Some parents go even further by creating a video channel presenting the daily life of their toddlers: a “reality TV” format that often generates millions of views.

We thus become dependent on the gaze of others, their reactions and their judgment. A joyous moment spent with the family is no longer enough: it must also be displayed in a positive way on the networks to meet our need for recognition. “It’s complicated to resist this media injunction which encourages us all to show ourselves, recognizes the child psychiatrist. However, we must be extremely vigilant. Because this media hold is taking more and more place in our lives and instrumentalizes us, we like our children “.

Respect their desire for privacy

The first problem with this overexposure is that of the consent of the child. “Publishing photos of him without his consent is to be in total disrespect of his privacy,” insists Dr. Thierry Delcourt. As small as they are, our dear blond heads do indeed have a right to image, which they can assert when they come of age. While 25% of parents think their children are too young to decide, 42% of adolescents2 believe that their parents publish too much content about them. While most of the photos posted are “cute,” the fact remains that your kids didn’t choose them and may not come to terms with them growing up.

Some may even serve him at school (mocking, humiliating, even cyberbullying or cyberstalking in college or high school), or in his future professional life. “Even if this publication is initially benevolent, it comes to” violate “the child in his privacy and transforms him into an” object “, underlines the child psychiatrist. This can lead to big psychological problems later, a hardening of the relations with the children. parents in particular… He can blame us. The first limit that we must therefore impose is that of the necessary agreement of the children, when they are old enough to express it! ”. Not to mention that by posting photos without their consent, as if it were a trivial and harmless act, you are setting a bad example for them: as a teenager, they too risk posting photos without thinking. intimate, with all the harmful consequences that this can engender.

Protect them from sexual predators

The greatest danger of this overexposure is obviously pedophilia. Identified, tagged and visible in public mode, the photos of your children – as innocent as they are – can be spotted by malicious people. “From the moment these photos enter a network, the risk of kidnapping by a sexual pervert can arise…, raises Dr. Thierry Delcourt. Obviously, it is quite rare, more than cyber-harassment between young people, but we must always keep this risk in mind “. More frequently, photos of teenage girls in swimsuits or lightly naked are posted on erotic sites or on the Darknet: so do not minimize the scope of these publications!

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