Is it Ethical to Share Photos of Kids on Social Media?

mother photographing baby with smart phone

The answer is more complicated than you might think.

For a while now, as social media has played a bigger and bigger role in our lives, I’ve been wondering about those ubiquitous photos of children posted on social media. I’ll never forget when Ellie was 16 and I had just done an interview for Good Housekeeping. I mentioned something about her in the article and she politely approached me afterwards, saying, “Please do me a favor: Will you ask me permission before talking about me in a publication?” I thought she was perfectly justified in her request.

Now as I peruse social media platforms, I wonder how some of these children will feel about having their images plastered all over the place. After all, these kids are often too young to give their consent, and in some cases, parents are profiting off their children’s images. How is this affecting the development of their self-esteem? Are they going to be lost when they grow up and aren’t getting the likes they’ve become accustomed to?

Stacey Steinberg is a former state prosecutor who has studied the impact of “sharenting” vis-à-vis children’s privacy, agency, and ability to make memories. I thought her Ted Talk was fascinating, and thought you would, too: