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Parents posting kids’ pictures online may be abusing their rights

Susie O’Brien, August 29, 2019 6:45PM Herald Sun

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You may have had tantrums as a toddler, but do you want a photo of a tantrum online for the world to see forever? Picture: iStock media_cameraYou may have had tantrums as a toddler, but do you want a photo of a tantrum online for the world to see forever? Picture: iStock

safe kids

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Parents who share their children’s photos, birthdays or where they live could be taking away their human rights.

This could affect the children’s safety and their ability to get into particular schools or universities or get a job, according to legal expert Associate Lecturer Cassandra Seery of the Deakin University Law School in Victoria.

The United Nations* is reviewing its Convention of the Rights of the Child and is ­seeking comment on the rights of children in the digital age.

Australia is one of the countries that has signed the convention, or agreement, on children’s rights.

The UN would like to update its definition of children's rights to reflect modern life, which often includes parents posting details about their children online. media_cameraThe UN would like to update its definition of children’s rights to reflect modern life, which often includes parents posting details about their children online.

In a written submission to the UN, Ms Seery has explained the way children’s rights may be negatively affected by every milestone published online by their parents.

International research shows three in four parents regularly post photos and videos of their children on social media.

Although it was not illegal and children had no rights to stop it, Ms Seery said it was a violation* of their human rights.

“The truth is we don’t really know how this data might be used in the future and how it may impact on a child’s rights,” she said.

“For example, it has become increasingly common practice for prospective employers to conduct ‘social media screenings’. These processes could also be applied to children in a range of circumstances.

“Private education institutions may choose to screen parents’ profiles to determine the suitability of prospective* students, which may impact on rights relating to non-discrimination and access to education.

“These potential impacts could extend beyond childhood, leading to lifelong inequalities.”

Ms Seery said content uploaded to social media platforms “gives those businesses an immediate, universal licence* to distribute without being sued, and there’s no telling how widely it could be viewed or mined for data”.

Ms Seery wants Australian regulators*, companies and governments to look at measures such as online prompts before a parent posts a photo, changes to the Privacy Act* and mandatory* reporting for tech companies.

A study published by the Herald Sun earlier this month found children aged 13 and over want their parents to ask permission before putting photos of them online.

Crying Little Girl media_cameraThere are concerns that parents are posting too much detail about their children online and that may not be fair to the children. Picture: iStock

Human rights are a set of basic rights that everyone is entitled to, because they are human, regardless of where they live, where they are from, their race, religion, sex, language or any other status.

Human rights include the right to life and liberty*, freedom from slavery and torture, freedom of opinion and expression, the right to education and many more.

The United Nations proclaimed* the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 to make clear what the fundamental* human rights are.

There are international laws that guard human rights and are in place to stop governments taking away people’s human rights.

In 1989, member states of the United Nations signed an additional set of human rights, called the Convention on the Rights of the Child.


  • United Nations: international organisation working towards co-operation and peace
  • violation: breaking a rule or law
  • prospective: future
  • licence: right or ability
  • regulators: organisations and people who make sure people follow rules
  • Privacy Act: set of laws designed to protect people’s privacy
  • mandatory: compulsory
  • liberty: freedom
  • proclaimed: made an announcement
  • fundamental: basic


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  1. What proportion of parents regularly post online about their children?
  2. Is it illegal for parents to post about their children?
  3. Give two examples of reasons why parents should be careful posting about their children.
  4. Explain in your own words what human rights are.
  5. What happened in 1948 that is mentioned here?


1. Create parental guidelines
Social media has certainly changed the way we communicate and broadened the audience we communicate with. How is this impacting our children?

Read the article carefully and list the ways that by posting photos and stories about their children, parents could be impacting their children’s safety and future.

Most parents want what is best for their children and would have no intention of violating their child’s human rights. Many would be unaware how their actions on social media could affect their child’s safety and future.

Your job is to help educate the parents of today about social media etiquette when it comes to posts about their children.

Create a list of guidelines that parents can refer to before posting content about their children.

Some of the guidelines will be the same or similar to the rules you have about posting personal information or defamatory comments/photos.

Time: allow 30 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Technologies — Digital Technologies

2. Extension
Create a poster that highlights the importance of why parents should consider the impact of their social media posts before posting. You want parents to see your poster and think about future implications for their children if they post images and stories about them on social media. Include a slogan that highlights the point and is easy to remember.

Time: allow 20 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Technologies — Digital Technologies

Dialogue and Speech Punctuation

There are a lot of quotes in this article where dialogue or talking marks are being used to help point it out. But the punctuation for talking marks isn’t just the 66 and 99 symbols as some people refer to them.

Have a look for clues in the article about when and where to put the boundary punctuation (start and end punctuation). Can you write up a couple of rules or tips and tricks for a younger grade level who are just learning about talking marks.

What should they remember and look out for?

HAVE YOUR SAY: Do you believe that parents who post photos and information about their children online are taking away or ignoring their human rights?
No one-word answers. Use full sentences to explain your thinking. No comments will be published until approved by editors.

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