Parents told to think before clicking 'send'

Updated: 2013-09-19 23:40

By Cao Yin (China Daily)

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Social networking sites are replacing photo albums as a method to record and share every moment of their children's lives, but some are raising concerns about privacy, Cao Yin reports.

Click, click, click...

Guo Jie took pictures with her smartphone of her 6-year-old son, who was performing on stage at a kindergarten graduation ceremony, and uploaded the photos online without hesitation.

Parents told to think before clicking 'send'

A mother shares a picture of her son on social media. Social networking has developed so fast in the past five years that more parents post their babies' photos online. Yet some people are raising concerns that the child's privacy will be violated.[Guan Xin / China Daily]

"I want to record the growth of my child, Ke Ke, in modern ways, hoping people who love him can see his images at different times as soon as possible," said the 32-year-old from Fujian province.

She shared Ke Ke's pictures from his birth to the present on her space on instant messaging tool QQ, and on Wechat, a popular smartphone application, saying "it can be considered a task I have to do every day".

Guo is not alone.

According to a survey by a British institute, most newborns in the country can be seen within one hour of their birth.

With the boom of social network services and multi-function cameras, there are now more ways to announce a baby's birth, the survey said.

Social networking has developed so fast in the past five years that only six percent of British parents did not post their newborn's photos online, while 62 percent uploaded pictures within one hour of their babies being born, the survey said.

Even if parents don't share the pictures, their relatives do them the "favor", according to the survey.

About 61 percent of parents in the country uploaded their babies' photos three times a week, the survey added.

Now, a new word — sharent — has been coined for parents who share photos.

But network experts and some parents have also expressed concern, saying it is easier to breach privacy on websites, particularly when people surf the Internet with mobile phones.

Parents should use caution when posting family members' photos and must also be wary when using social smartphone applications, experts suggested.

A way to remember

But parents are tempted by the fast and easy tools to leave memories for themselves as well as their children.

The 32-year-old Guo said she is happy to see Ke Ke's changes every day, whether in height, weight or looks.

"I took pictures to record my child's birthdays, his funny faces or even his first teeth," she said with great pride, adding what she is doing now is like what her mother did before.

Guo's mother made a handbook with photos and text to record the young woman's growth, which Guo has always read and enjoyed.

"That's why I'm willing to do the same thing for my son, because it will bring great joy to him in the future. It's to pass on love," she said. "It must be a colorful memory, for both mom and child."

Guo is the first generation to use social networking.

More than 70 percent of her friends, some in Shanghai and some in Sichuan province, share their children's pictures on Wechat. Talking about their babies' growth has become a hot topic among these young parents.

"Thanks to the app, the distance between us is getting smaller. Relatives who don't live in the same city as me can also see my son conveniently and quickly," she said.

She could not help showing her son's pictures from badminton classes in July and excitedly told China Daily what great progress her child made in sports and communication.

He was shy, but now he can talk in an easy manner with others, no matter whether students or teachers, she said.

It will be harder to take pictures when children become older, "because they're unwilling to play with parents, especially boys," she said, adding that she takes fewer pictures of her son now than when he was a baby.

Zhu Yan, a 25-year-old mother living in Britain, echoed Guo, saying she cannot stop taking pictures when she watches her 10-month-old princess, who is half Chinese and half Hungarian.

The young mother also used the Wechat app on her smartphone to record her baby girl Xiao Yu's first moment lifting her head and her 100-day ceremony, sharing the joy with her friends in every corner of the world.

"It's amazing and interesting. I can also show what I was thinking and feeling through my baby's photos," she said.

Although Zhu's husband is sometimes worried about the app's security, she regards it as safe.

"I believe the software has been made much safer," she said, adding many of her foreign friends posted pictures as well.

The 'friend circle' feature on Wechat can provide more privacy than other social network platforms, such as Facebook and micro blogs.

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