Shock question parents told to ask two-year-old tots
Exclusive: Parents should ask their toddlers for permission before taking a photo, the federal government's eSafety watchdog warns, in the wake of 'over-sharenting' on social media.
Like teaching 'stranger danger' from a young age - cyber safety experts say parents and child care services need to start talking to two year olds when taking and posting photos.
Some parents are upset certain childcares are already restricting the sharing of photographs, in line with the new advice.
Mother of two, Labor MP Courtney Houssos, who lobbied for parliament to be more child-friendly, said asking permission of a toddler before snapping their photo is a step too far.
"Obviously we need to teach our children about acting responsibly online but this is too much for a two year old," she said.
The warning is from the Early Years, Online Safety for Under 5s booklet that is being launched tomorrow in Canberra for Safer Internet Day and is being rolled out to preschools around the country. Parents will also be able to download the guide, which outlines why parents should ask a two-year-old for permission before taking photos.
E-safety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant said parents and educators need to be aware of the risks of "sharenting" - the over-sharing of children's images and information on social media platforms.
"By involving them early, we can foster sound habits and establish the resilience and critical thinking they will need if a stranger with malicious intent tries to solicit their image online - or if they are tempted to share a compromising photo of a friend online. And we have seen this can happen with children as young as three," she said.
"We are creating a child's digital footprint, sometimes from when they are in the womb and there is a dark side. You just have to stop and think and be sensible about it," she said.
Minister for Communications Paul Fletcher the risks of the internet shouldn't be ignored.
"These days much of life is lived online - and as today's parents know, even children as young as two or three are often extensive users of the world wide web for entertainment and education," he said.
'I MADE A RULE TO ASK MY TWO-YEAR-OLD'
Some early education centres have responded by changing their practices. Melbourne mum and blogger Anna Du Rieu said her preschool is implementing new rules around approving photos before posting.
"We have Whatsapp group and so on and the preschool has now put a ban on photos being distributed unless reviewed by the director," she said.
"A few of the parents got upset as they like sharing them and sending to their husband. It's a hard one because I feel like it's right on both sides; as a parent I like to see what my kid is doing throughout the day but I can see why some parents might not want to."
Mrs Du Rieu is an influencer who runs her sensory play business through Instagram and said she now asks her three year old when taking his photo.
"I have made a rule that I ask Dominic before taking a photo and Reuben is nearly two but he will push my phone away if he doesn't want me taking photos."
'THEY ENJOY HAVING THEIR PHOTO TAKEN'
Instagram influencer Sydney mum Alisha Williamson posts photos of her children on her account and said she wasn't going to start asking permission before taking their photo.
"I feel like maybe when they are older but two is too young, it's taking it a little bit too far.
"But my sons both love being in front of the camera and I think it's because I've taken photos of them from a young age - they enjoy it."
But Ms Williamson said she welcomed new guidelines from childcare centres that might restrict photo distribution.
"Everyone gets to see those photos and you have no control over them."
Early Childhood Australia's Sam Page said children should have a say in how images are shared.
"It is an area we are navigating for the first time, previous generations haven't had to worry about this. There is often really lovely ways of taking photos without identifying children."
As a working mother Ms Houssos said she enjoys looking at the photos sent by her children's childcare.
"These photos gives parents a view into how their precious little ones have spent those hours away from them, on a private and secure platform. But it's hard to see the smile on their face, if you can't make out which one is your child," she said.