Apple Martin was right to push back against Gwyneth Paltrow's post

When Gwyneth Paltrow shared a particular mum-daughter pic on social media, it sparked an international debate on whether parents have the right to post photos of their kids.

‘Sharenting’ is the term to describe a parent sharing photos of their kids online. The photo Gwyneth shared shows her fresh-faced and smiling, sitting alongside 14-year-old daughter Apple wearing a ski helmet and goggles. Sounds like a typical proud parent post!

Apple however did not like the photo of herself and publicly stated on Instagram, "Mom we have discussed this. You may not post anything without my consent'. Paltrow replied: "You can't even see your face!" 

Thousands of online comments suggested that Apple acted like a spoilt brat; that she looked perfectly fine and her disapproval was unwarranted. Equally as many said that Apple had every right to disapprove the image. Images stay online forever, so it’s important that you’re happy with them.

While this mother-daughter spat may sit firmly in the world of celebrities where Gwyneth’s whopping 5.3 million Instagram followers will view the photo, it tells a bigger story of where teenagers are up to in terms of protecting their digital identity. Should we as parents be expecting this kind of pushback from teens, and should we be Ok with it?

My answer to both questions is yes! If teens are acting this way, it’s a good thing! It means that they are actually listening to our safety advice about protecting their digital identity.

It also shows that they have further developed the idea of safeguarding oneself online. For them it also includes ensuring that when others depict you online, it must align with the digital identity that you are comfortable with. Dad uploading the family pic that dad looks best in, or that he thinks the child looks ‘cute’ in, doesn’t necessarily fit that brief!

Kids’ have their lives displayed on social media from day 1. Sharing photos of your kids is a great joy for parents but social media is not the modern-day family photo album. Sharing pics online is different to sharing them within the protective environment of your lounge room. Today’s digitally savvy youth don’t want their parents to get this wrong for them because they can’t undo your errors.

We often warn kids that future employers can look up their Instagram/Facebook account to find out more about them. These same employers can also follow tags to parent’s accounts. Your posts about your child’s toddler tantrums, awkward teen moments, and their bed-wetting problem will add to the judgement they make on your child.

We are equally responsible for ensuring the way our kids are represented online is in their best interest, not ours. Checking if your child is comfortable with the photo you want to post of them online can be a quick, win-win conversation. It also sets up a great, respectful approach to digital etiquette. And we all know that the world needs more of that!

My article was originally published in the Sydney Morning Herald here