Muscat: Parents in Oman have been asked to consider their children’s feelings before uploading pictures of them onto social media, as these could have unfortunate consequences in future.
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With social media access readily available to everyone, parents have taken to ‘sharenting,’ or sharing photos and videos of their children when they were younger, which are then seen by the child’s friends, who use these photos to bully them and cause them undue embarrassment.
In response to this, many children have proceeded to sue their parents in retaliation to their sharenting activities, children abroad have sued their parents for the abuse they have received because of these photos, and although this hasn’t happened in Oman, Dr. Gerald D’Costa, a psychiatrist at Badr Al Sama’a Hospital is asking parents to consider their child’s feelings before posting pictures of them online.
“When children are teenagers, their social standing and how their friends see them is very important because they want to be accepted and fit in with their friends,” D’Costa said, speaking to the Times of Oman. “When their friends see these photos of them online, the first instinct is to make fun of them, and this affects their self-confidence.”
“Parents might feel that the photos they’re posting online are cute, but the children themselves will be embarrassed by this, because others will use these photos to make fun of them or bully them, and that’s not a good thing at all,” he added. “I would definitely advise parents not to put up these photos, especially if it is going to hurt their children.”
This was echoed by Jasim Al Balushi, deputy head of Training and Professional Development at the Caledonian College, who is concerned about how these can be used by cyber-bullies.
“If I do put up pictures of my children online, it’ll probably be only family photos of us going on a trip, for example,” he explained. “I will never put up a photo of my children doing some activity with their friends, because then you have other families questioning why their children’s pictures were put up without their permission.”
“Additionally, you never know who is watching your activities online, and these could be used by cyber-bullies, who will use these photos to blackmail and extort from you,” added Al Balushi. “These days, everything is possible through digital photo manipulation and there are all sorts of people online, so I would definitely advise parents to consider what they are putting up with, and how this could affect their children before they put up these photos.”
From a legal standpoint in Oman, though, there are very few grounds on which children can sue their parents for decisions made on their behalf before they turn 18.
“Legally, we would first peruse laws pertaining to children, and see if what the parents have done does indeed hurt their children, and then we would see the extent to which this has happened,” said Mohammed Al Tayib Abdelnour, a senior counsel for Al Alawi and Co., a law firm in Oman.
“When a person is still a child, all of the photos taken by their parents are still the property of the parents, but I would still advise them not to hurt the child’s sensitivities,” he added. “In addition, I do not think it is right for a child to sue his father, because he has given you education, food, clothing and shelter, and has kept you safe, so you cannot just turn around and do this to him.”