MUMBAI: Social media is a way of modern life and babies tend to jam up social networking timelines, often giving grownups a run for their online presence. You see pictures of them soon after they are born, cuddled in their parent’s arms. You see them during their mealtimes, on their potty chair and what they look like in uniform on their first day at school. You also see first time videos of them crawling about in diapers, on holidays, and in swimwear paddling about a pool. Those at the helm of broadcasting such streams of kids and their antics are usually their progenitors.

The safety and ethics of publishing photographs of one’s child on social has always been a tricky issue but given the realities of online predation and the dark web, it seems amplified in a study that will be published on Tuesday. The titled ‘The Age of Consent’ conducted with the participation of 1,000 of children aged one month to 16 years across Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore, has found in its overall evaluation that most parents are aware of the risks involved in parading images of their children on social media, yet have no qualms in doing so anyway, often without their children’s . Across the country, parents in Mumbai (66.5%) followed by Delhi (61%) and Bangalore (55%) say they have the right to share images of their children online without consulting them first.

If 40.5% of parents post a photo or video of their child at least once a day on their social media accounts, 36% of them post a picture of their child once a week—out of a desire to stay connected with friends and family—highlighting the extent of mass exposure a child is subjected to on the world wide web.

Most parents aren’t oblivious to concerns associated with sharing images of their child online, including pedophilia (16.5%), stalking (32%), kidnapping (43%) and cyber bullying (23%). Despite their worries, as many as 62% of the parents do not consider the need for their child’s consent for the content they post online. What is perhaps more alarming is that 76% of parents even admitted to being aware that these innocent snapshots could land in the wrong hands and someday come back to haunt them or their children.

Mumbai parents, it turns out, are also the most active with 48% a picture of their child on social media at least once a day compared with other metros such as Delhi (38.5%) and Bangalore (31%). Parents from Bangalore (59%) exercise the highest caution and post pictures of their children only from private social media accounts, followed closely by Mumbai (57%) and Delhi (48.5%), states the survey published by McAfee, a device-to-cloud cyber-security company.

Social psychiatrist Harish Shetty says that although parents are increasingly aware of the importance of protecting their children’s digital presence, “it’s more spoken than enacted because most parents believe nothing can go wrong with their child. They have the information but it isn’t integrated into their being.”

He adds: “There’s an overwhelming need among parents today to feel good about every little achievement of their child and bask in that glory as their own enterprise. Also, Indian parents specifically believe their children have no right to their own choices.”

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