You Asked, We Answered
by Lynette Owens
As part of our work around the world, our team visits hundreds of schools and communities to peak with parents, kids and teachers about what it means to be good digital citizens. We talk to kids of all ages about what it means to be great online and we learn what they’re seeing and doing on the Internet; we speak with parents, teachers, and communities about the challenges and opportunities of raising kids in an online world. And while we share a lot of our knowledge and advice, we also learn a lot along the way.
Many times we are asked great questions by students, parents, and teachers. We feel some of them are worth sharing for the benefit of all. We’ll post these as frequently as we can in our “You Asked, We Answered” series. We welcome your questions here, too!
This week’s question is:
“Someone posted a picture on Facebook that had my kids in it, but never asked me. I don’t want my kids’ pictures out there in public and I don’t want people to post things about them without asking first. What should I do?”
While we have rights to privacy, what we each feel comfortable with sharing about ourselves is a deeply personal issue. The rules of etiquette for sharing online aren’t written anywhere, and each of us has a different boundary on what is or isn’t ok to share. We’re figuring out the norms for sharing as we go.
Most people, regardless of age, do want some control over what is shared about them or their families. Here are a few things you can do that we find helpful, and that parents and students have told us that they do:
- If you feel comfortable enough, ask the person to take it down and let them know you’re reasons.
- If the social network you use has the ability for people to tag your name in a photo they post, choose the setting that alerts you so you know when a picture is going up that is associated with you. You can decline that your name be tagged with that photo. This will prevent it from showing up in your own string of posts (but doesn’t prevent them from sharing it on theirs).
- If someone you don’t know has posted it, you can report them to the social network, website, or service to request that it be taken down.
The best way to manage your privacy is to let people know how you feel about it. Have conversations as early and as often with your family members (extended family, too!) and friends. No need to make a big speech, just let people know one by one what you do or don’t prefer to share.
We encourage kids to have these conversations among their friends, too. And parents should set good examples, too. When you take pictures of others, ask if it’s ok to post or to even just text it to other people, and try to do this within earshot of any kids around you whenever you can.
Lynette Owens is the Founder and Global Director of Trend Micro’s Internet Safety for Kids and Families program. With 20+ years in the tech industry, Lynette speaks and blogs regularly on how to help kids become great digital citizens. She works with communities and 1:1 school districts across the U.S. and around the world to support digital literacy and citizenship education. She is a board member of the National Association of Media Literacy Education and SPARK Kindness, and serves on the advisory boards of INHOPE and U.S. Safer Internet Day.
Follow her on Twitter @lynettetowens