The children’s commissioner for England is calling on internet giants and toy-makers to be more transparent about the data they are collecting on children (BBC). She has published a report: ‘Who Knows What About Me‘. I was asked by Talk Radio to think about the ethics of putting photos of your kids online, and at what age you should start asking for consent, what it means for data harvesting and online marketing, how it might affect people’s on/offline behaviour as they get older.
Lovely talking to you Dr B ??
— Eamonn Holmes (@EamonnHolmes) November 8, 2018
Here’s the audio:
and the segment was apparently reused later in the programme (thankfully with a reference to Manchester Metropolitan University!)
- Media/digital education have often focused more on the risks, can we change the conversation? Digital literacy remains key.
- In a consumerist society where everything is driven by money, sharing is encouraged = drives advertising $, therefore the government needs to push (based on research). At Manchester Metropolitan University we teach students a unit on ethical and responsible marketing.
- It should not be the default for everyone to have all this data, marketing companies collect quality over quantity just because they can (also think quals vs quants data) – I don’t have a FitBit (mix of reasons relating to disordered eating, and not wanting my entire life to be tracked, although aware my Smartphone does a lot of that).
- Marketing ideally should be seeking a win-win relationship – matching ‘buyer’ and ‘seller’
- Are fears every time a new technology comes in – need to be focusing on the right questions (e.g. screentime vs screen content; data collection individually vs aggregate).
- As the technology changes, expect the legislation to proactively engage, but also need to ensure the companies are being held accountable (academics are well used to undertaking ethical processes in their research, and are accountable to the public for this).
- There’s the question of which platform content is being shared on – a bounded space such as Facebook (choose audience) or a public site such as Instagram – and also how much information the particular picture gives away, and be talking about this from an early age (conversation is key)
- Think about campaigns such as 5Rights – in which data can be wiped at age 18 *as a historian this feels a shame, but archives have never kept all information anyway!
- Remembering that life is not risk free – and we can’t be struck inactive by fears, balanced with not being over-blase about what we share.
Articles Drawn Upon:
Articles I’ve written/quoted in:
- Tech Talk: Sharenting – what’s the right approach? with @citymothers (October 2018) – includes top tips
- #SID2017 – Are people ‘over-sharenting’? #DigitalParenting (February 2017)
- The ‘sharent’ trap – should ?you ever put your ?children on social media? (May 2018)
Some stuff from LSE Children/Media Project:
- Sharenting – in whose interests? (May 2017): Considering the difference between a legal model and a public health model (digital literacy), as there’s no consensus on what is appropriate to ‘sharent’. Includes 7 recommendations for managing sharing about children online.
- Tiger Mom 2.0: (Over)parenting for a digital future? (July 2017): Talks about those who have grown up in the first generation of ‘helicopter parenting’ are now parents, and the pressure to share online ‘perfect parenting’, and the normalising of perfection.
- Under the limelight: Celebrity parents sharenting (September 2017): Drawing upon research from Portugal, triggered by Cristiano Ronaldo posting many pictures of his son. Highlights the indirect benefits of sharenting for parents, but questions the lack of control of data for children who have no control over what is shared.
- Could a child sue their parents for sharenting? (October 2017): My thought: with the right conversations and a desire not to embarrass/upset, then hopefully a legal resolution shouldn’t be needed, but it provides an option for when relationships have broken down.
A few comments from friends:
- I have a friend in Canada whose daughter asked her to stop posting pictures of her when she was four (i.e. she realised that she didn’t know who could see her pictures and also that she didn’t get to choose how she looked in them). Her daughter, now six, will occasionally give permission for photos to be shared but it’s always her call, not her parents’.
- With my daughter, I can’t and won’t put anything up without her permission. And she asked me to take some of the previously posted pics down which I did. She’s 14.
- My mate had a kid who’s now 4. When he was a baby she didn’t put anything up/told everyone no to. Now he’s old enough she asks him if he wants something put up and everyone else does the same. She was so determined in it and made it clear every family/friends event
Digiexplorer (not guru), Senior Lecturer in Digital Marketing @ Manchester Metropolitan University. Interested in digital literacy and digital culture in the third sector (especially faith). Author of ‘Raising Children in a Digital Age’, regularly checks hashtag #DigitalParenting.