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Keeping treasured memories safe

Posted on 13 October 2020 by Caitlin

Sharing pictures of our tamariki is a way of celebrating their cuteness, their cleverness and their triumphs. But it makes sense to hit pause before you post to give yourself a chance to think about where the photo may end up.

As part of our role to classify content, we receive a large number of submissions from the Police for instance, that contain child sexual abuse material. We often see in that mix of objectionable content pictures of children that look like they have been taken from someone’s social media feed – a child playing at the beach naked, in the bath etc – images you might see in a family photo album, which are taken, shared and used by those with a sexual interest in children.

We wouldn’t ban or restrict most of these images, we classify this content based on how it appears not how it is used. Unfortunately, while the thought that someone could take an innocent image of your child and use it for sexual purposes is horrible – it is something that happens right here in Aotearoa and across the globe. Children are our taonga and we need to do all we can to protect them – particularly now in a digital age. – And if we banned them…well then you would get in trouble too, which doesn’t make sense.

What we need to remember!

Whenever you post an image online, people can caption, edit, crop it, or use it in a way that you never intended. Pictures can be altered and a cute and innocent image doctored to be something funny, offensive or sexual and exploitative. People create memes by adding text to photos, including of children. A picture or a video can be made into bad taste jokes that are mean and hurtful about the child in the photo and these get shared by people who find it funny. And in an age where deepfakes are becoming an issue, we should be concerned.

Things like facial recognition and social media platforms are developing so quickly. We need to be aware of how these things could impact our tamariki in the future. Imagine going for an interview and your boss showing you a picture of you naked in the bath as a toddler – humiliating!

It’s upsetting to think this happens but there are things you can do to protect your tamariki.

The most important thing you can do is think before you post. Ask yourself – is this an image that I would be okay with someone else taking a copy of or altering? Put yourself in your child’s shoes – when they are old enough to have their own social media account, would they be okay with how much of an online profile they already have based on your activity?

There are practical things you can do to help prevent your child from being exploited through your ‘sharenting’ (parents who share a lot about their kids online):

  • You can create private groups or group chats, for example, groups made up of immediate family members, where you can share pics instead of posting them on your feed. Ask family and friends to respect your wishes and not post images of your tamariki online without your consent.

  • Check out your privacy and security settings on social media – restrict what people who you don’t know can see on your page.

  • Be careful of the hashtag – people who are searching for images of children will look for #bathtime #babybath etc – by tagging images in these ways you are making it really easy for people to find them online.

  • Only connect with people you know and trust – accepting random friend requests could put you and your tamariki at risk. And why not do a spring clean and cull a few of those old acquaintances.

  • Be aware – you have very little control of what happens to something once you’ve posted it online and not everyone has good intentions.

  • When in doubt, don’t post it.

These tips don’t eliminate the risks but they do minimise them, and we think they are something we should all use when posting anything on social media – but especially pictures of our tamariki.

We are creating our tamariki’s digital footprint before they have a say and without really understanding the risks as well as considering the rapid development of digital technology. It is time we paid a bit more attention to this.

Social media enables us to connect with each other and share our aroha for our tamariki and whānau, it is an important tool in today’s world – but is not without risk, if we understand what the risks are, we can better manage them.

For more information check out;

Here are some avenues for making a complaint.

If the content of this blog has made you feel uncomfortable, concerned or distressed please reach out. Free call or text 1737 for more support.

A child creature tells the their parent not to post a photo online. The parent apologies and says they will check next time.


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