Negotiating the online privacy rights of infants and children

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Babies are adorable. They are unblemished and unaffected by the pain of life and the machinations of society. And being that you consider your hairless, wrinkled prune of a newborn some higher power’s gift to you and the world, it’s not surprising you want to share your joy with the world. And so, pixelated womb not included, the first breath of your newborn is filmed and photographed on your spouse’s smartphone. That first post, a proud selfie of the father with mother and child still attached by the umbilical cord in the background, may have horrified us for just a moment, but the celebration of new life took over and the flood of photos to come are mostly welcome.

With her new art concept called New Born Fame, a toy that takes pictures of babies and instantly posts them to social media, Laura Cornet, a student at the Design Academy Eindhoven in the Netherlands, wants us to reconsider this trend of publicizing infants and children on social media. Cornet’s mobiles, dangling soft plush toys shaped after the corporate logos of Facebook and Twitter, hang over the crib as most conventional mobiles do. However, when a baby stretches and reaches up toward them, a photo or video is instantly taken and uploaded to social media. It is an intriguing art concept that makes you ask, “What right do we have to violate our children’s privacy rights?”

There is more to New Born Fame than just the social media themed mobile. The whole set includes the mobile that takes photos and video, a pacifier with GPS, baby shoes that track the child’s movement, and a plush toy moon that takes pictures when moved. And all of the data is instantly posted to the internet for the whole world to see.

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Although intended as a work of art with the aim of starting a dialogue about the privacy rights of our children, the idea will likely be adopted and adapted for commercial sale. We all love a good baby picture and this will keep a constant record for those doting parents when they are not around for that special moment of a child’s first sneeze, or that silly look of concentration during a bowel movement.

Perhaps, and as a counter-weight to New Born Fame, someone should invent a camera device for our children to wear on their clothing so parents are forced to see themselves from the perspective of their children. Facebook is a filter of the great moments, the chosen scenes that will make the “final cut” at our funerals. But there is so much more to parenthood than cute goo-goo ga-ga fun. Someone needs to invent a new device that allows the world to see photos of a parent’s reaction as they are pissed on for the very first time or forced to clean up after a dirty diaper has been removed. If parents are free to capture potentially embarrassing moments of their children without their consent, then perhaps children deserve the right to post pictures that accurately depict the horrors of parenthood.

About Author

Poet, web designer, and tech writer, Brad Bailey is co-founder of Tech Gen Mag. Having once been a regular in the Orange County poetry circuit, Brad set his notebooks aside to assist childhood friend, Kristian Markus, with the task of building a web-based tech magazine. Born into the Nintendo generation, Brad is a longtime fan of video games, gadgets, and computers.

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