children play phone
Children on their phones Image Credit: GN Archives

DUBAI: Dr Mohammad Yousuf, Specialist Psychiatrist, Aster Clinic, Al Muteena, throws light on the things to be kept in mind when dealing with teenagers and their privacy issues on social media.

Teenagers are equally deserving of privacy. Yes or no?

Yes. I believe everyone, minor or adult, is entitled to privacy as individuals.

Should parents post images of their children on social media?

Yes and no. To answer this question absolutely or objectively, without knowing the nature of the photograph shared, would be unfair to both parties.

Many pictures are shared by parents simply to let everyone in their social circle have a glimpse of their life at home, bring a smile to others or find solace after an unfortunate event.

Why does this anger the young?

Advancements in technology [have made] many malicious acts possible as photographs can be used for unpleasant purposes, so many young adults are wary of their photos being shared.

Also, the child is introduced to a lot of people without their knowledge who they may or may not want to be acquainted with.

The most evident difference between photos posted by parents and their children is the thought that goes into it. Many youngsters spend considerable time taking, editing and posting photos to their idea of self-perfection.

For parents, it’s a far less time-consuming process. Parents aren’t as concerned about perception.

Also, parents believe they are entitled to take and share the photographs of their children simply because they are the care-givers.

What are young people’s vulnerabilities regarding their image?

Many young adults live distinctly different lifestyles at home and in public. When photos of them are shared by parents of their private lives, it exposes them to the public eye and shatters certain perceptions.

Is it a must for parents to seek consent of their children before posting images on social media?

This would depend on the age of the children. It’s redundant to ask children if their photos can be posted online when they don’t have the mental capacity to answer it fairly.

It is common for parents to appropriate their children’s identity as their own until the children are adults, this is why parents find it hard to fathom that they are expected to ask their children for consent.

Is social media changing the rules of privacy?

In today’s day and age, it’s harder to parent children when a lot of what is happening privately is up on the internet and everybody has an opinion to share. To fully understand what is acceptable warrants a lot of thought and as people change, this would change too.

The world has changed, so have the rules.

Advice to parents and the young:

Traditional thinking as a parent is no longer an option.

Educate yourself on social media etiquette.

Find what works best for you, your children and your family.

Advice to teenagers:

Be patient with your parents.

Many adults weren’t born into the lifestyle you have now. Adapting to it takes time. Help one another reach a mutually desired goal.

UAE Residents’ reaction

What parents say

Gulf News spoke to UAE residents to get their side of the story on the issue of whether parents should seek consent of children to post their pictures on social media.

Allen Suhas:

“I feel it’s better to seek consent from a child [before uploading anything]. Right to Privacy is a fundamental right and must be respected. Nevertheless, it varies from parent to parent and it’s entirely up to them how they want to manage their family life. Having said that, parents must ensure that the photos [being posted online of their children] are appropriate and must share them responsibly. Seeking consent from children will also help them follow internet etiquette.”

Shaheen Akbari, father of Saif Akbari:

“ I don’t consider uploading pictures of my son without his consent as a breach of privacy. We understand each other relatively well and have mutual respect for each other’s privacy. However, I do see this becoming a problem if the parents aren’t on good terms with their children. Parents should be responsible while using social media and must consider what impact the photos will have on their child’s future.”

What young adults say

Varun Menon, 19:

“Honestly, if it comes from a place of love, I think any child would be comfortable with their parents sharing their pictures online. Nonetheless, parents should upload photos responsibly and must be careful of what information they are putting out. Keeping in mind today’s age of technology and social media, images can have a lasting effect on the future of an individual. So anything that portrays an individual in a negative light should be avoided.”

Saif Akbari, 19:

“I would not consider this as an invasion of my privacy. As long as it’s my parents who post my pictures, I would be fine with it. However, if any other individual decides to post pictures of me, then yes, I would definitely consider this as a breach of my privacy. The question of invasion of privacy would arise when I see my pictures on someone else’s account. As a young adult, I am comfortable with my parents sharing my pictures as I trust them to be responsible with it.”

—Compiled by Ashlin Bangera, intern with Gulf News