On our Facebook page, we recently opened up a debate on the prevalent topic of social media, children’s photos and digital consent after learning that Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis had actively decided against sharing images of their children on social media until they were of an age where they could decide for themselves.

It was really interesting to hear different points of views, experiences and discuss this further, and we’d like to make it clear that this is 100% a personal choice for you as a parent, we don’t think either way is right or wrong, but living in the digital age that we are, it’s important that we have these conversations and take various viewpoints into consideration.

In our post, our founder Leigh expressed that in her experience, due to having friends and family all over the world she has used social media in the past to post photos of her children in order to keep friends and family up to date and to share news and experiences, but as her children have grown older, they have begun to ask her not to share their images.  This does seem to be the general consensus for many of our members – as children become aware of social media and consent, many actively ask their parents not to share their images on these platforms and this is respected.

However, some members shared that from the outset they made the decision not to share their children’s images for numerous reasons; safety/privacy concerns, the unknown realm of the wider internet and where these images could end up and their children being unable to consent.

For others, many do and continue to post photos of their children on their social media, but ensure their privacy settings are limited to friends and family only and also that they have their own rules in place in terms of the type of content they do post; not embarrassing, no nude/nappy shots and many also seek consent were developmentally appropriate.

There was also a recurring theme through many of the comments for many parents who had posted pictures of their children when they were younger, but as the children got older they themselves had made the decision for their photographs not to be used and many of these children are less keen for their images to be used online by their parents.

There is no right or wrong in this debate at all, and we suspect this is a debate that we will come back to time and time again; living in such a digital age; social media and the internet aren’t going anywhere any time soon and so we all need to make these decisions for our families; whatever those decisions may be.

For those that do choose to post photos of their children, there are safety and privacy features on all of the popular platforms which allows you to filter who views your content and the advice from many parents who do share photos, is to ensure that the images you share are appropriate and images that your children would be happy for you to share and be on the internet when they look back in a few years’ time.

Social media, like everything, has its pros and cons, and the use of images and photo consent is and always will be a contentious, but personal topic; social media is fantastic for keeping in contact with friends and family from all over the world and sharing images is often part of this for many people, and as long as we are mindful of safety measures around children’s images online and as such are also conscious of the ‘darker’ side of the internet that concerns so many social media users, then there is no reason why your online journey cannot be a positive, safe and enjoyable one.

It may be worth, however, as soon as is developmentally appropriate to do so (this will differ for every child and only you as a parent knows when is best for your child/children) just ask their views on having their images online and take on board their responses; as we want children to be confident, knowledgeable and safe internet users, and so in this instance, we must very much lead by example, and ensuring our children are able to make informed, important decisions that have a direct impact on them and their social media/internet footprint, as in our current digital age, this footprint will be with them for many years to come.