How much should parents share of their kids and themselves online?

So, who is in the right? Do Federline and Gellar have a point? Should parents consider their kids when they post on their social media? And should parents stop featuring their children on their social media accounts completely, or at least shield their identity? Or should it be every parent for themselves?

Lauren Bradley, registered counsellor, sexologist and director of Love Therapy Australia says the situation is complicated.

“For some parents sharing content is their way of standing up against societal norms to create a safer place for their children.”

Lauren Bradley, counsellor and sexologist

“What is appropriate is rarely decided by consensus, it’s such a grey area determined by family values, culture, society, privilege, peers, and individual beliefs. How we see nudity depends on these factors and dictates whether we find it shameful, sexual, liberating or neutral. For some parents sharing content is their way of standing up against societal norms to create a safer place for their children,” she explains.

Despite this, the nature of the online world means most things are forever and even if deemed comfortable or liberating for your family, this view may not be shared by others.

Worse, their opinions may lead to scrutiny, judgement, negative feedback and even bullying, not only of the person who posted the image but their children.


“There is nowhere to hide in a digital age. If you post something online, you should assume that your boss, parent, ex-partner or children can find it,” Bradley says.

“Everything you share about yourself online should pass the test of a) am I comfortable with my vulnerable or sensitive contacts seeing this? and b) if so, will they consent to see it and c) will it cause them harm or discomfort? If you can’t say yes to both a and b and a big NO to c – then you probably shouldn’t share it.”

Spears isn’t the only high-profile celebrity parent sharing revealing images of themselves on their social media – the Kardashian sisters are mums who don’t shy away from baring nearly all. They also don’t hold back on sharing updates of their underage children, who frequently appear on their public social media accounts.

While parents posting images of their children on social media is not uncommon, it is something that may also lead to a plethora of issues for our kids, now and in the future, says Kirra Pendergast, CEO of online safety and education firm, Safe on Social Media.


“I see the direct impacts every single day. I actually ask the question [when visiting schools] “whose parents post photos of them online?” Most of the room puts their hand up [and] most eye-roll and comment that they don’t like it.

“They [say that they] feel ‘obligated to keep their parents happy’, to satisfy the need for someone to click ‘like’ and validate their parent’s lives.”

eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant says parents posting images of their children can create issues ranging from respect and consent to much more unthinkable repercussions.

“When you post a photo of your child online, it can end up travelling more widely than you want (or realise) and can be ‘harvested’ from social media or other websites and used for unintended purposes.

In the worst cases, these photos can end up on paedophile websites and forums,” she says. Ultimately, Pendergast believes that “at a minimum, they [parents] should ask their kids for consent” when posting their image on social media. Grant agrees.

“You do not legally have to ask your children for their consent but involving them in decisions about what to post or share will give you the opportunity to demonstrate good practice,” she says.

In addition, Grant says “it’s important to consider your privacy and safety settings and share with friends and family you know and trust.”

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