NPR Feature, Readers Digest, and More. #sharenting

I was thrilled to be quoted in a recent NPR article, written by Tara Haelle.

Do Parents Invade Children’s Privacy When They Post Photos Online?

“[Stacey] Steinberg and Bahareh Keith, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Florida College of Medicine, say most children will likely never experience problems related to what their parents share, but a tension still exists between parents’ rights to share their experiences and their children’s rights to privacy.

‘We’re in no way trying to silence parents’ voices,’ Steinberg says. ‘At the same time, we recognize that children might have an interest in entering adulthood free to create their own digital footprint.'”

I was also quoted in a recent Reader’s Digest article, written by Stephanie Smith.

7 Things to Never Share About Your Children on Social Media

“‘Think of your kids as autonomous people who are entitled to protection not only from physical harm but intangible harm as well,’ says Stacey Steinberg, a legal skills professor at the University of Florida Levin College of Law in Gainesville, Florida, and associate director for the Center on Children and Families.”

Our research has also been cited this month in numerous international publications, including The Irish Times, Europia Press,  Marie Claire Italy, Univision, O Globo, News World India, Knowing Asia , and more.

It has been an incredible honor to see my work reach such a broad audience. I am so grateful to the talented writers and editors who have featured my work.

‘Sharenting’ at the American Academy of Pediatrics Annual Conference

Dr. Bahareh Keith and I presented our abstract on children’s privacy last weekend at the American Academy of Pediatrics Annual Conference. It was an incredible experience. Like us, many members of the audience have grappled with balancing parental sharing with children’s privacy. It was wonderful to share our research with such thoughtful professionals.

We received a significant amount of press coverage during the event. Here is a small sampling of the news features discussing our work.

CNN – The do’s and don’ts of posting about your kids online [link] October, 2016

CBS News – Something to consider before posting about your kids [link] October, 2016

“’Online sharing offers many positive benefits to both parents and children and to communities as a whole, but this message is all about finding a balance,’” Steinberg told CBS News. “’A parent’s right to share and the benefits of sharing is very important and by exploring this we can find a way to allow families to connect online but also to respect children’s privacy.’”

Protecting Kids in the Age of Sharenting – Interview with The Atlantic’s Adrienne LaFrance

I was thrilled to speak with The Atlantic’s Adrienne LaFrance about children’s privacy on social media. We had a wonderful discussion. The following excerpt provides some of the highlights. Ms. LaFrance made many excellent points, and she summarized the issues so well in her article.

“Parents make value-based choices for their children all the time. A toddler may want to opt out of wearing any clothing whatsoever to the playground, but the grown-ups of the house make the kid put on pants and a T-shirt anyway.

Parents often tell their kids what to believe about God, and which football team to root for. Even infants are outfitted in tiny rompers that declare partisan political affiliations. There is no ‘bright line,’ Steinberg says, that dictates when and how it’s appropriate for parents to express themselves through their children. That’s part of why, especially in the United States, there’s enormous cultural deference to parents to do what they believe is right. Yet when identity-shaping decisions—made by parents, then distributed online in ways that ultimately remove parental control—are digitally preserved for years or longer, such decisions potentially get in the way of a child’s self-actualization.”

Sharenting: Children’s Privacy on Social Media | quoted in Slate

I had the pleasure of sharing my research with Slate this week. Here are some quotes from the article:

“Steinberg suggests a focus on providing guidance that helps parents think through the implications of sharing information about their kids online.

In a forthcoming article in the Emory Law Journal, she considers how a public health–based approach to behavior change could address these concerns. For example, health professionals have mounted campaigns to educate parents and the general public about ways to combat secondhand smoke exposure and sudden infant death syndrome. In the article, Steinberg provides a list of recommendations for parents, including the suggestion that parents ask their children before posting pictures online and give children “veto power” over information, photos, or videos they don’t want to be shared. Steinberg, who along with pediatrician Bahareh Keith will present on this topic at next month’s national conference of the American Academy of Pediatrics, believes doctors could be a good source for parents to turn to get advice about online sharing decisions.”

You can read the full article here.

Children’s Privacy on Social Media – Sharenting

I’ve written extensively about sharenting, or the practice of parents sharing about their children on social media. You can read my research here and my Washington Post essay here. You can also read my NY Times interview on the subject here.

I was interviewed by Redbook Magazine this week. Here are some highlights from the article:

“‘Most parents want to do the best for their kids, [but] when it comes to online sharing, there’s just not a lot of information out there — parents can be at a loss,'” she says. …

But while there may be a lack information, there’s an abundance of sharing from other parents. Steinberg says that a whopping 92 percent of 2-year-olds have a social media presence, and one-third of all kids appear on social media within the first twenty four hours of their lives. …

Steinberg pointed out that there are, indeed, lots of pluses to so-called ‘sharenting,’ such as how it can foster a sense of community.

‘I think that really, when we look at these issues, we’re going to have to find a way for society to value a parent’s right to share, and a child’s interest in privacy,’ Steinberg says.”

Children’s Privacy on Social Media – Interview with The New York Times

On March 8, 2016, New York Times editor K.J. Dell’Antonia interviewed me regarding children’s privacy on social media. I’ve written a law review on this topic, forthcoming in the Emory Law Journal.

Read the full article here:

Don’t Post About Me on Social Media, Children Say

A few additional links to articles referring to this interview are here:

Women’s Day:

Kveller: Kids Wish Their Parents Would Stop Posting About Them on Social Media

Express: How the tables have turned: Kids now telling parents to ditch their phones

A draft of my forthcoming article, Children’s Privacy in the Age of Social Media, is available here. It will be published in the Emory Law Journal in Spring, 2017.

Parenting in the Facebook Age: Should We Rethink How We Share? First published in the Washington Post

This essay was first published on the Washington Post.

As parents, we often question how parenting in the age of social media affects us. We worry that by constantly posting status updates, we aren’t living in the moment. We are warned not to compare ourselves to other parents in our news feed. I’m starting to wonder if we’ve been focusing too much on the impact social media has on our own lives and maybe we should focus instead on how social media affects the lives of our children.

Should we allow our children some control over their digital footprint?

As a children’s rights advocate, photographer and mom, this question haunts me. I bring it up when discussing child rearing with friends and family. I casually slide it into conversations with child welfare and constitutional law experts. I am fascinated by debates centered at the intersection of parent/child rights, an issue that is not limited to social media and online sharing. The law has tried to balance the competing interests of parents and their children for generations.

Where does a parent’s right to control the upbringing of the child end and a child’s right to some semblance of a private life begin?

As a mother, I am guilty of at times over-sharing even the most mundane of parenting experiences. My oldest son was born just a year before I signed up for my Facebook account. His life has been the highlight reel of my news feed and my news feed contains more milestones than I’ve written about in his baby book. My son’s images plaster the walls of my virtual cloud, a place he is only beginning to know even exists. But as my son enters an age where he can express an opinion about his digital footprint, I am starting to think about these issues a little deeper. Armed with a law degree and a passion for juvenile law, I can’t help but wonder if my social media habits will one day be outlined in legal casebooks and social science research.

HIPPA prohibits medical professionals from sharing personal information about patients without written consent. FERPA requires teachers and administrators to protect the privacy of a student’s educational records. Delinquency statutes protect some juvenile records from public disclosure. Societal norms encourage us to use restraint before publicly sharing personal information about our friends and family. But nothing stops a parent from sharing their children’s embarrassing or private stories with the virtual world.

Article 16 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Children grants children a right to privacy. The United States signed this document, but the U.S. is the only United Nations member country not to have ratified it. I am not saying that simply ratifying this document will (or should) grant a child control over their parent’s Facebook feed, but I wonder if we owe it to our children to think more about this issue.

Should we ask our older children for permission before posting their picture online? I recognize that children are unable to fully understand the consequences of over-sharing in the virtual world. As their parents, we have a responsibility to protect their online identity. When our children one day learn of the personal stories we’ve shared, will we find ourselves asking them for forgiveness?

As a photographer, I often feature families who have struggled through complex medical circumstances on my photography page. Recently, these stories were featured on The Huffington Post. I stand by my decision to publish thboyinfield (1 of 1)e images. These human experiences raise awareness for important social issues and help solicit funding for important medical research. When struggling families share openly, others similarly situated gain support and knowledge. Not only do families in similar circumstances benefit, but we all have the opportunity to deeply connect with one another and recognize the rich diversity in society.

In the 1800s, children were seen as the property of their parents. Since that time, we’ve learned so much about childhood development. Sometime between the birth of Facebook and the coming of age of my son, I’ve started thinking about myself as the protector of my children’s digital identity. I am still learning how to balance this role with my desire to share my own story.

Unlike parents of the future, I don’t have the benefit of research, data, or even case law to guide my decisions. This is the parenting issue of our generation and the conversation is only just beginning. As we think through these issues, perhaps we should invite our children to join in the discussion.