Have you ever been tagged in a completely unflattering photo on Facebook? I mean the kind when you look at it, you groan and debate in your head if the person will notice if you untag yourself? It’s awful, right?
Social media and smart phones have brought us a whole new set of societal rules and expectations. It is almost hard to remember a time when absolutely everyone didn’t have a camera in their pocket at all times, with the ability to publicize that photo to millions of people with just a few taps.
So what about our kids? Kids and internet privacy is a huge issue. Many schools, teams and other kids’ groups have rules regarding parents taking photos at events.
Ok, so what about our kids? What about kids with disabilities?
They deserve even more protection…and more and more I am finding scenarios when it is their own parents who have not protected them. All in the name of “advocating” or “I am helping him and kids like him!”
Uh huh, are you?
A few years ago in a Facebook group, a parent needed some help. I don’t remember the exact age of the child, a tween if I recall. And in order to ask for help, he posted a video. Video was his child…sitting on the floor in nothing but a diaper. Who wants a photo or video of themselves, wearing a diaper, plastered on the internet for strangers to see? No one I know.
Sadly, that is not the first time I’ve seen that and had to say something to a parent. That might be a basic lack of common sense. Others are not so obvious.
One time, against my advice, a parent did a media interview. I advised her against doing it, then advised her against doing it alone. She did it with no one beside her. Her teenage son was attending a special day program and our local vocational school. When the article came out, it mentioned him by name and stated that he “had the mental capacity of a 3-year-old.”
So, from now until the end of time, any time anyone googles his name, that article will come up and the reader will learn that about him. But mom was well-intended, right?
You know what they say about good intentions.
Parents need to really think this stuff through with our disabled kiddos. We have an added responsibility to protect them, particularly when they need help defending themselves. This child was likely going to have struggles finding a job anyway, and now on the outside chance an employer does an internet search, Mom made it even harder for him.
One of the most egregious examples is something I saw this week. It was a video of a teenage girl, and I’ll just leave it as “it was unflattering.”
Mind you, in all of these examples, I am not at all shaming these kids. No kid should be made to feel ashamed of their skill sets. Ever.
But they should get a choice as to whether or not the general public can access that information.
Anyway, this video was very unflattering. I would imagine that any teenage girl would not want this video of herself online that 5+ million people had already seen.
So, rather than ponder…I asked. “Did she give you permission to broadcast this to 5 million people?”
Wow. My heart sank.
By the parents’ own words: she is not able to consent.
So they assumed consent.
That she seems to be having fun is irrelevant at this point.
When I pointed that out to the parent, they became angry and accused me of calling them a child abuser and whatnot. I didn’t.
As parents to non-verbal children, we have an extra burden of proof to bear…to err on the side of caution. We can advocate for our children while allowing them to keep their privacy and dignity intact.
We do not have to show our kids at their worst moments to make our point.
Stop, think and rethink before you post that picture, video or story. Please.
Self-advocacy and self-determination is always the ultimate goal, but if they do not have those skills yet…we cannot assume that what we think is best for them, is what they think is best for them.