This is just one example of the phenomenon known as a “Selfie” ( a photo taken of oneself by oneself) that is beginning to flood the pages of Face Book, Instagram, YouTube and other various forms of social media.
What’s disturbing about this photo, amongst oh so many other things, is that the girl in it is obviously quite young.
Young enough to not be posing for pictures like this in her underwear, (even if she is the one taking the photo of herself), and certainly not yet old enough to realize the dangers inherent in posting photos like this on the world-wide web, where anyone can download them and do whatever they want with them.
As a mother, whenever I see these images, I wonder whether or not the girl’s parents are aware of what their daughters are posting on-line?
This is a very different response to the one I would have had less than a year ago, when I would have automatically condemned the girl’s parents for “letting their daughter’s take such photos”.
Now with the benefit of hindsight and a rapid education in the modality of our modern social media, (thanks in large part to my own children’s use of social networking), I am beginning to understand that such photos can be taken without a parent even so much as being aware that their children are doing anything more than playing with their iPod’s, iPad’s or mobile phones all within the safety and the privacy of their own bedrooms.
And of course, therein lies the rub.
We think that as parents, our children are safe when they are in the privacy of our houses or in the safety of their own rooms.
But the truth is….. Sometimes they’re not.
Sometimes, especially for teenage girls, privacy when combined with the ability of mobile phones, iPod’s or I pad’s to take photos and upload them instantly onto the internet, along side the peer pressure they face to be cool, can become nothing short of a recipe for disaster.
A disaster that anyone can download, copy and redistribute to as many different web sites, as many times as they like.
As if that isn’t a creepy enough thought already, my major concern in all of this is for my own daughter.
What happens if these kinds of photos appear often enough on her links that they become viewed as common place and no big deal at all?
Will she then, in time, begin to believe that it’s acceptable to post up similar images of herself? As if it is no ‘biggie’ to expose her face and her body in such a way to the world at large?
That if enough of her friends start doing it then eventually it won’t matter to her how many times I tell her that it’s wrong……. and that it is a big deal…..
And then maybe…..
The first time I’ll know anything about it will be once it’s already too late to take it back.
And perhaps the scariest part of this line of thinking is that when it comes to questions like this……
How do I know that she hasn’t already snapped a shot of herself like that within the privacy of her own bedroom?
With the phone I brought her to keep her safe while she’s out and about in case of emergencies.
The answer is….. I don’t know. And if even I have to admit that I don’t know, then there must be other parents out there who may also have to admit that they don’t know either.
So I think the days of believing that we as parents can control what our children do, show and say have well and truly been taken away by the digital age.
So we’d best get on with the job of understanding this and start looking at finding new ways of safe guarding our children’s best interests.
In the meantime here’s a simple truth for every teenager out there………
Once a picture has been posted on the internet you can never really get it back.
It is there to stay.
Yes sure, you may be able to delete the original copy that you put up……… but can you track down and trace however many people have downloaded it in the meantime?
Can you prevent them from sharing it?
Can you prevent complete strangers from downloading your photos?
You may think that you can….. But you can’t……
Unfortunately the photo at the top of the page is proof that anyone, and I mean anyone, can download your personal pictures from any unprotected social media sites……
Because I know I certainly am.
The photo used in this post is the least offensive “selfie” shot of its variety that I could find. Believe it or not, this young girl is actually wearing more clothes than most of the others. Disgusting I know.
- Posting Photos of Children Online (webroot.com)
- Facebook Parenting Guide by SociallyActive.com hits #1 on Amazon eBooks (prweb.com)
- New Concerns About Privacy on Facebook (jeannehannah.typepad.com)