Lots of parents love showing off their kids' cute pics on social media (ourselves included), but the recent Tiktok furore about one three-year-old internet star and her mum has got us thinking twice...
One day they were an internet success story, the next, they were facing the mother of all backlashes on TikTok. Why? Because it was revealed that their videos were being saved and commented on by a large number of unsavoury characters. Leading many to question the mum’s decision to post videos of her three-year-old in the first place. So, was she wrong for posting? It’s not an easy one to answer, especially as we love the digital world here at Honeykids HQ as much as anyone.
But like it or not, we all know that the internet and social media platforms can be a scary place. We are always trying our best to stay safe online and to protect ourselves and our kids (even when doing fun things like online gaming), but this news story has brought the ugly realities to the forefront of our minds. Should we rethink the picture we just posted of our kids online, however innocent? Could we be feeding into this evil online practice of child exploitation?
GROWING UP ONLINE – OUR KIDS DIGITAL FOOTPRINTS AND SOCIAL MEDIA
Social media is becoming embedded in the fabric of our digital-savvy society. Our teens can bond with one another and have whole conversations over Whatsapp or in a video game comments section. As parents, it can be difficult to keep up and know how best to protect our kids in this digital landscape. After all, the internet didn’t even exist for some of us in our teen years. Our parents didn’t have to struggle managing devices either. Keeping up with the Joneses involved, who had a Sega or Gameboy (remember those?), you didn’t have to bring the bullying home with you in a device that fits in your pocket.
We didn’t have to suffer the humiliation of the entire world seeing pictures you didn’t want them to see (it’s no longer limited to just a few of the mean kids in your class). Because we didn’t grow up with it, we’ll never truly understand the pressure our children are under growing up with the internet. Nothing posted to the internet is ever truly deleted. It’s always hiding in a server somewhere and can be unearthed at any time. We can no longer throw old photos or ex-love notes on a bonfire and know that no one else will ever see them. Isn’t that a scary thought?
We know all about the dangers of social media – or do we?
We have all heard about the dangers of social media (and we’re not just talking about the time lost when you fall down a rabbit hole of Tik Tok cat videos). We know about bullying. We’ve seen the dangerous and unsavoury content that goes unchecked or needs to be reported by thousands of netizens in order to be removed from a social platform. But what about the darker underbelly of the internet that we are aware of but don’t like to think about – child exploitation. Did you know that you may inadvertently be a part of it, without even knowing it?
The dangers of a Tik Tok baby album
This week saw Tik Tok explode with commentary on a particular account featuring a young mother and her three-year-old daughter. This account has more than 17 million followers and features short videos of the pair doing cute things together. Most of the content seems to be innocent ‘home movie’ style videos of the toddler being adorable. Swimming, popping water balloons, wearing cute themed outfits for celebrations, that sort of thing. The account reads like a baby photo album, peppered with mum updates, too – much like our own social media accounts. The only difference – millions following along for the journey.
So what has caused the uproar? In short, it is the comments section.
Most of the comments section on their videos has been turned off, as it was highlighted that there were quite a few creepy comments being made on these seemingly innocent videos of a three-year-old. The videos were being saved hundreds of times, and investigations showed there were followers saving images and making many concerning comments indicating an attraction to children.
How does this affect you, and your children?
Every image you post on social media, even on a private account, could end up in the hands of someone with the wrong intentions. Screenshots can be taken by ‘friends’ who follow you. The content, once posted, no longer belongs to you. But at the same time, it can be argued that you can’t protect your kids’ images from falling into unwanted hands when it comes to offline activity either. Even when they are playing in a public park, you may never know if a stranger takes a photo with ill intent. It’s just that posting their image on the internet makes it far easier for predators to find and download them.
What’s the solution?
Honestly? We are really struggling to find it. We share images of our kids on our social media pages to keep our readers up to date with what’s happening in Singapore, and advertisers often use children in their marketing materials. So, where does it end? What is the solution? ‘No kids on the internet, ever’ seems to be an unachievable utopia, in the same vein as no paedophiles existing. We don’t want to live a life in constant fear, dictated by the sick intentions of a few. But we do want our children to remain safe – so what’s the answer? We’re still working on that one. Got a view? We’d love to hear your thoughts – reach out to us via email or DM us.
Stay tuned, we’ll be sharing reader feedback on this soon!