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May 2017

Parental Sharing on the Internet: Child Privacy in the Age of Social Media and the Pediatrician’s Role

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Pediatrics, University of Florida College of Medicine, Gainesville
  • 2Randall Children’s Hospital at Legacy Health, Portland, Oregon
  • 3Center on Children and Families, University of Florida Levin College of Law, Gainesville
JAMA Pediatr. 2017;171(5):413-414. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2016.5059

Social media use has dramatically increased, and children often have digital footprints long before they take their first step. Expert sources provide guidance for parents to understand social media, monitor their child’s use, and give advice on ensuring children’s healthy use.1 However, there is a paucity of research and resources to assist parents in understanding the potential ramifications and healthy ways that parents may share information about their children. The disclosures parents share online will follow their children into adulthood, and although there are benefits to this,2 there are also potential harms that are unrecognized by many parents. Harms may include identity theft, resharing pirated information on predator sites, sharing psychosocial information that should remain private, and sharing revealing or embarrassing information that may be misused by others.3 A study conducted by the Australian government’s eSafety commission found approximately 50% of images shared on pedophile sites were taken from social media sites.4