How many times, in a day, you see children? How many times, in a week, you interact with them? Answers will be vary. Have kids on your own, most probably you have to deal with them every day. A teacher? Monday to Friday.
Again, how many times in a day, when you are surfing the magic world of internet, you stumble upon some pictures of cute children with all their cheeky grins? Crying, playing, laughing, bathing, eating, sleeping. And in second, you found yourselves, like me, going, 'Aaaaah...' with eyes softened and eyebrows curving down. They are just so adorable, aren't they?
Images of children are everywhere. TV (most ads now use kids, even for product that children don't use or has nothing to do with children), radio, newspaper, magazine (how many magz are now dedicated to 'smart and sensible' parents? With glossy pages of proud good-looking mom and dad pose with their kids in oh-so-adorable-outfits), pamflet or business logo or NGOs' reports (from the appeal for war-torn kids in Afghanistan to NGOs' new hips of smiling African girls), and of course, your daily supply of online media.
On my facebook, I have some friends who are (recently) taking role as mothers (and it seems that the number grows exponentially every year, higher speed and soon I'll be attending christening rather than wedding -alone *sigh). Everyday, there'll always be two or three of them post pictures of their children doing stuff. Cute!!! I have to admit, although sometimes it gets too much. One of my friends irritates me (no I don't storm it out at her) by posting almost every single move of her son, from getting up in the morning, sleeping peacefully, crying, fighting, eating, sitting idly after eating, opening the gifts. Really, the same expose MJ's children or Surie Cruise would get, had the paparazzi be given full access. Oh ya don't forget mum's comment to stuff the context!
But why bother? Surely 6yo Bonnie is her son? It's not like all these moms are trying to do harm to their children. And it's facebook, where your friends are supposedly people you know, right? So what's the harm? Most comments on the pics came from close friends (because only close friends bother to sneak into your page hahaha). No weirdo would going to copy the pics and what? distribute? using them for dodgy stuff? Well, god forbids so, but who knows?
But no, my argument against posting your cute ones pics on facebook is NOT based on rare-but-it-does-happen act of phedophils. It's about privacy, that your kids are individual who have rights to privacy, just like you, me, your husbands, and billions others adults. Want something solid? Well, the Convention on the Rights of Children (as contestable as it is) stipulates the children's rights to privacy. And CRC, my friends, is the only human rights convention, all the countries have signed and ratified (except, our beloved US and Somalia).
Contrary to some would insist, children do understand privacy, although not in mainstrem-adult-way of defining or understanding it. Children, too, have their comfort and private zone. Remember, the time when you have that cheesy flowery diary with that smell of cheap-soap and you'd rather die than someone (esp. parents) have a look and read it?? That's privacy. All the secrets things that children hide (although parents insist on openness and honesty). They might not be things that matter for adult (how many times as a kid, your parents laugh at your best kept secrets when you were eventually game enough to share it?), but they do matter to us as kids, no less matter than they are to your children.
In current social media, privacy is a big and constantly debated concept. New social media like facebook or twitter that connect digitally-literate people of all ages (as you can always defy your age. my two youngest siblings, age 10 and 12, have facebook), and share information captured in words and pictures to all your friends. And they are there for only Mark Zuckenberg (and few others) knows how long. In facebook, with current higher privacy setting, you can control whom you share information with, and if your friend mind enough to pay you the luxury of courtesy, they'll tag you and inform you when shared information are posted. And you can either reject it or not. Although, what happen if they're not sensitive enough (some ppl think they own the complete rights to shared pictures just because their faces are also captured)? Similarly, adults are considered well-informed of the consequences of their presence in public spot or at least, when someone take your picture. Taking someone picture in public spot is another issue to discuss, something that I don't have enough knowledge.
So, imagine 1 yo old daughter and I, as a happy proud mom just want to share the joy of me having her to my friends. Facebook is the place, isn't it? And how, being mindful of the my daughter's privacy, do I ask for her consent? After all, she's only 12 months, the only word she can utter is 'mommy'.
No easy way. Back to CRC, acknowledging that children might not have all that it takes to make sound decision (this is too, debatable) considering the complexity of decision one can make sometimes, CRC provides the (overly-abused) principle of 'the best interest of the children'. This principle, although contestable and vague, is probably the only venue of guidance I can think of now. This principle lends space for adult to make decision for children, done in the manner of utmost consideration of (1) children's opinion and (2) their best interest. Assumptions are the one who make decision, knows better and has good intention. Remember the way your parents said to you, 'This is for your own good!' That's it, they're using the same justification, i mean, principle. But again, the principle begs the question of interpretation. Adult and children, no matter how close is their relationship, have different interpretations. And not to mention, the difficulty in defining 'interest' and measuring the scale of 'best'.
Best interest of children and their opinions. If your children are smart enough to comprehend the internet (and what it means by mommy putting your singing pictures in her facebook), ask their opinion or rather seek their permissions!! If your children, are too young to understand or for some other reasons cannot understand, think twice, deeply! Would this picture embarrass my son? Now, three years or thirteen years later? If I were him, at his age (or later) would I be happy if someone share my picture in my swimmer to 600 others people that I don't know (think hundreds times if you are a narcissistic person)?
Sounds too much, or too progressive. Not really. Children by the age of 4 or 5 can understand that anything with their image on it is, to some extent, their possession. They have opinion of what to do with it, which pictures are okay to show to people (not the one I wore that stupid bunny outfits), and to whom. So chances are, three years from now, the picture of your 1 yo daughter will still be accessible (remember no one knows how long facebook and internet keep all our information) and they might disagree on your decision putting the pics on facebook. After all, it's the token of their lives that you are sharing, something that they have full ownership of.
-that way, next time i procrastinate by flicking your children's picture, I don't feel guilty hehehehe-