Back to Blog

First Day of School: Embarrassing Photos, Social Media And Your Children’s Rights Online

By Solicitor (Foreign Qualified), Group Litigation

It’s that time of year again when the kids are three feet taller and two teeth short of last year’s school photo and mum and dad want to capture the special moment before they turn into sullen teenagers.

Much to the embarrassment of many youngsters, that picture will probably get shared far and wide across social media, as parents update friends and family – and the wider world - on the big ‘back to school’ day.

But what rights do your children have over how you use their photos and data online? More than you might think.

Tough New Protection Around Children’s Data

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which comes into force in May next year, has a special focus on protecting the rights of children. The Government has announced that the GDPR will not be affected by Brexit.

The first new rule is that if the kids are posting their own photos online, the GDPR requires social media companies to get your consent as a parent or guardian. The GDPR has given each European member state the power to decide the age between 13 and 16 that kids will be able to post on social media without consent. It is likely that the UK will choose to set the age at 16, as this is the default age under the rules.

Erasing Embarrassing Information

The next rule is that social media giants will be required to remove information concerning children (particularly the embarrassing bath photos) on request. This will also apply retrospectively to adults who want information removed that they posted online as a child. This will be reassuring to anyone who had a MySpace page.

Child-Friendly Terms And Conditions

If a social media company is dealing with a child, the GDPR provides that it has to use simple language that the child can understand. This will prevent the kind of impenetrable terms and conditions that we have become accustomed to on the internet.

It will also allow you to object if your child’s online activity is used in marketing or advertising, for example, you wouldn’t want your kid’s picture turning up in a cigarette advert without your consent.

While parents are rightly cautious around what their kids get up to on the internet, they often do not think about their own social media activity. Photos often now include geolocation data and automatic tagging. It might be worth disabling these functions when posting back to school images online, particularly if it is already clear from your kid’s uniform which school they go to.

The back to school picture is an institution and a lot of fun, but it is important to remember your child’s rights online and the kind of information that you are sharing with the world.

For a consultation with a specialist group litigation lawyer, contact Slater and Gordon today on freephone 0800 916 9015 or contact us online.

David Barda is a group litigation lawyer and data protection specialist at Slater and Gordon in London.