Think Twice Before Posting About Your Children Online! 

Understanding the Law

Have you ever heard of “sharenting” or “oversharenting”? These relatively new terms combine the words “oversharing” and “parenting” to describe the actions of parents who post their children’s lives online. Some parents even make it their livelihood. From posting about your child’s first steps to their graduation and their Halloween costumes… Are you oversharing your child’s life online without realizing it? 

First thing’s first, it’s important to note that Quebec does not currently have laws that regulate the specific practice of sharenting, as opposed to places like France or the American state of Illinois. But this doesn’t mean that anything goes when parents share pictures, videos or information online. 

Children also have the right to control photos and videos of themselves 

Children, like everyone else, have the right to protect their image. Whether it’s a photo, a video, an Instagram story or a reel, you must get consent before posting content in which a child can be recognized. Doing so without consent could be considered a violation of the child’s right to control and protect their image, as well as their private life. This same rule applies when you post content featuring an adult.  

However, exceptions exist. For example, you don’t need consent to post a picture of a crowd taken at a public event like a hockey game, or if individuals are in the background of a picture taken in front of a historic monument like the Château Frontenac.  

Your consent is required 

Before a child turns 18, it’s usually a parent that gives consent on their behalf. When you yourself post your child on social media, you implicitly give this consent. Whether you post about them rarely, all the time, with love or in a joking manner, you’re consenting on their behalf with every click. 

Acting in your child’s best interests 

You must always act in your child’s best interests. This means that, before publishing an image of your child on social media, you must assess the consequences on their privacy, safety and well-being based on their personal characteristics, needs, age and character, among other considerations.  

Posting a photo or video can have serious consequences for your child. For example, it could affect their reputation, dignity or self-esteem. Taken out of context, images of their daily life could expose them to ridicule and cyberbullying. As your child ages, they may also feel uncomfortable with the knowledge that images of them have circulated on social media.  

Things to consider before posting 

Want to share images of your kids on your social media accounts, but don’t know where to start? Here are a few things to consider before posting: 

  • Respect your child’s privacy and intimacy. When in doubt, post content in which they can’t be identified or recognized.  
  • Avoid publishing photos in which your child is nude or underdressed. This could be a crime.  
  • Take your child’s opinion and personality into account. When your child is older, make sure you have their consent. For example, agree on the type of post, the choice of audience (public page vs. private group, for example) and frequency of posts. Building a reputation starts young! 
  • Make sure you have the other parent’s consent before you publish. In a recent judgment, a court decided that the right to share images of one’s children online could be limited in the event of disagreement with the child’s other parent.