Avoiding early sexualisation of children
The modern world is full of threats for our children, it’s a very stressful time to be raising our children. One of the biggest headaches for parents and carers is the advent of social media. Be it Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest or Twitter, you can communicate with people all over the world and you can see exactly what your favourite celebrity and their family are up to. But this openness can also be dangerous for our children and poses threats of inappropriate images, trolling, online bullying or even grooming.
1 – Think about what poses you want your child to be pulling in photos.
Children’s brains, from birth until the age of 15/16 runs on a mixture of different drugs. For example we learn to smile by the release of drugs in our brain caused by the reactions of our parents to us pulling a smile. This is no different than how children pose for photographs. They are learning from our reactions what pleases us, and by pleasing us it gives them a little rush. The problem with taking pictures of children pulling adult poses or indeed as ‘boyfriend and girlfriend’ is that it predisposes the child to think that this is what people like, find attractive and so are more likely to do it when they are older without realising the connotations the different poses have.
2 – Think about the number of photos.
Again this is about predisposing expectations for your child, taking and sharing excessive amounts of photos will be teaching them that that’s what they should be doing. So as they grow and start to have their own social media accounts they will think it is normal to share large numbers of photos. They won’t have problems with sending their friends photos. And when it comes to the risk of being asked to send inappropriate photos, they may just see it as part of the normal sharing of photographs. It’s sad to say that increased social media is great for families and also a potential threat as our children grow.
3 – Think about your privacy setting.
Remember what social media you are sharing your pictures on. For example in Facebook you can limit your photographs to only being seen by your friends. On Twitter, unless you have set up a private account, then everything is public. In Instagram and Pinterest you can set your pictures to be only seen by those who follow you for example.
4 – How will someone else view this picture?
Finally, just take a moment to sense check your photograph before posting it. You know the context, you know the before and after, the story behind. The world doesn’t, so there will be people who can misconstrue what the photo means. Just take a moment to think about that.
It might not be comfortable to have to think about this, but the reality is in the modern world, even with tight privacy settings people can still take screen shots or even photos of screens and then share the picture. Once it’s online you have very little control of where it goes.
Want more advice like this to help your child in the future?
This topic, like many, makes raising a child in the 21st Century a minefield. There are no rule books or instruction manuals, you have to feel your way and work out the do’s and don’ts yourself. You are not alone and there is a community of like-minded parents coming together to discuss and learn about these very threats, it’s called Help My Child Grow.
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