Christmas is a time for sharing - make sure it's with consent

I hate to use the C word, but it is undeniably around the corner and getting ever closer.

There’s a lot to sort out - buying and wrapping presents, choosing and decorating the tree, then there’s the stuffing of the turkey (or veggie alternative, we’re inclusive here). Plus, for all the parents and carers, Christmas comes the inaugural School Nativity. Whether traditional or a modern uptake, many of us will spend several evenings/days sat in school halls watching children sing their hearts out dressed as camels, shepherds, donkeys or angels (along with some of the more left-field costumes that do the rounds).

Rows upon rows, night upon night of delightful bountiful shepherds, little angels, cheeky donkeys and fluffy sheep. Our social media feeds will be filled with them. Of course we all want to capture that beautiful moment, much like the first day of school or the last day of term. And many of us will want to share that photo with friends and family, be they near or far. But first, stop and have a think about what - and with whom - you are sharing.

Be mindful about the image you’ve captured: what does the picture tell the viewer? Could you identify a school, house, road or car? Are you telling the online world which school your child attends and what year they are in?

Consent you can’t acquire

Be aware of “who” you are sharing with: of course Grandma wants to see her darling grandkids dressed as Mary or the school cow, but have you inadvertently captured a picture of Joseph, Jesus and the Angel Gabriel for all the world to see? Many people do not like having images of their children online, and schools will often ask that you do not share photos or videos on social media for this very reason. Ensure when you are posting you are only posting a photo of your child and no one else can be seen or identified – no matter how innocent the photo.

Many schools will have a policy around social media and the taking and sharing of images. If you don’t know yours, ask! Some may go as far as to ban image taking devices, whereas others will request you do not post anything taken within the school. If your school doesn’t have an online safety policy, fear not, we have created a free template you can access, with plenty of guidance so you can create one that suits you.

Consent you can acquire

Stop for a moment before you post and ask: are my own children happy to have their images shared online?

Why not take this opportunity to talk with your children and young people about asking and giving permission for taking photos and consent in the digital world? Do you know what your children think about having their own digital footprint? Take a look at our education packs from Safer Internet Day 2019 if you need some help.

Once the nativity has played out, and the children have had their last school meal of the year, the idea of sharing images and consent does not stop there. How many of us will attend family gatherings over the festive break? Whilst your 6-year old is more than happy to have the image of them opening their first present of the season shared online, their teenage brother may feel quite differently. Just because he went to see Father Christmas does not mean he wants all his friends to know about it.

Again, it comes down to being mindful of what you are posting and thinking about who is in the image before you post it online.

It's the time of year for sharing and goodwill - a harmless social media post could end up being more like a lump of coal if you aren't sure everyone agrees.

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