I came across an article in a daily national newspaper about a day care that the writer, Leah McLaren, had recently visited and their ‘no photo’ policy. This means that neither staff nor parents are allowed to take pictures (and I assume that means video too) of the kids – even their own – in case another child is shown in the same image. This topic sparked quite a bit of controversy amongst respondents online as well as on a local radio station when one of the hosts asked listeners to call in with their comments.
I too felt compelled to chime in.
I’m one of those moms that had my video and digital camera with me at every school and family gathering. I documented every family vacation, birthday, milestone and event. Now, when I get together with my siblings and their families, my nieces and nephews often request that we bring out dvd number 32, for example, from 1998, so that we can reminisce and relive some very happy moments.
My daughters too love watching dance recitals from a decade ago or laughing with their friends as they watch school recitals from kindergarten days when they weren’t so self conscious and happy to prance around onstage in a way they would never dare to now. When I observe them enjoying the fruits of my labour, and partake in watching the dvds too, I am so grateful that I didn’t listen to my kids when they admonished me and told me to stop taping everything. I wonder how I would have felt if I were asked (or told) by others not to tape my children and their friends in an end of the year concert or at a play group, for example.
On the other hand, I do understand how times have changed. Back when my kids were in kindergarten and primary school, parents weren’t posting images of their own (and sometimes inadvertently or purposely, others) on social media. I personally take exception to people posting pictures of me or my children on social media without getting our permission. What if I don’t want the world knowing that I attended a certain event? What if I don’t want everyone to know where I’m vacationing? And what if I don’t want random people knowing the location and name of the school my child attends?
So, the solution I am suggesting seems simple: in recognition that there is a line that can be drawn between personal or home use of pictures/videos versus those that are posted on social media, I suggest that if administrators of places where children congregate are concerned, that they have parents sign a form indicating that if they take pictures/videos of children other than their own, that those images will not be disseminated in any way or anywhere without the consent of the child’s parents.
That way parents can continue to build a memory bank of images of their children and his or her friends while at the same time respecting the rights and privacy of others. To institute a ‘no photo’ policy – no ifs, ands or buts, would be, in my estimation, a real shame.
Sara Dimerman is a Psychologist, Author and mom to two daughters. For more advice, connect at www.helpmesara.com or on Twitter @helpmesara.