A lot of kids have smartphones. And every smart phone has a video camera. Have you talked with your tweens and teens about when it is appropriate to take video of other people?
My daughter and her best friend were at our home playing earlier this week. It was a nice enough day, so I told them to go play at the park around the corner from our house. They didn't look overly thrilled as the weather wasn't perfect, but I decided to follow old school parenting and told them to go anyway and find their own fun.
What they found, however, was decided not old school.
There were boys at the park, some of whom my daughter and friend knew. As 11 and 12 year-olds do, it sounds like both sides worked hard to both ignore and observe each other. There was one boy, however, who decided it was best to observe with his smartphone. He was taking videos of the girls with his phone. He would hide behind slides and trees and was apparently worked hard to get just the right shot.
The girls asked if that's what he was doing. They asked him to stop, he did not.
Now, maybe this kid is the next Stephen Spielberg and just really dedicated to his craft, but that still doesn't mean that it's okay for him to be videotaping your child at the park, or mine, especially when he's doing so surreptitiously.
Parents need to talk to tweens and teens about the importance of having permission when it comes to cameras, especially on their phones.
Two critical things kids need to know:
1. Ask people before you take video or photos of them. If they say no, don't do it.
2. Ask for permission before posting photos and videos of people anywhere. If they say no, don't do it.
The group NetSafe out of New Zealand suggests explaining it to kids like this: "Posting photos or videos of other people without asking is a bit like borrowing things from people without asking them first - we need to check out if it’s ok to post or send photos (or videos) of other people before doing it."
Kids have a right to privacy. Granted, the privacy diminishes in public, but peers should still respect a request to please stop.
I know that kids have been spying on each other for decades and while this isn't new behavior, the technology takes it to a different level.
Was what this kid doing most likely harmless? Yes.
Was it still disrespectful and a bit creepy that he didn't stop when asked? Yes.
I'm willing to bet that it never crossed his parents' mind that he would be video taping girls with his phone after they had asked him to stop. And you're probably thinking "my kids wouldn't do that." And you're probably right.
But talk to your kids anyway, both about appropriate uses of the cameras on their phones and also how to handle a situation if someone will not stop videoing or posts a picture they'd rather not have posted.
Side note: I have told my kid to disregard my old school parenting technique of kicking them out of the house and to the park when things start to feel uncomfortable and made sure she knows that she can return home when needed. Clearly, those parents didn't think about who was videotaping their children when they sent them outside for the day.
Anyone else wishing things were less complicated sometimes?
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