So your child has a new digital camera or phone, a birthday or holiday present, or a just-for-fun gift, and photos are now speeding through the virtual world in every direction — via e-mail to friends, in a Flickr album, attached to a text message, and highlighting social networking comments. Before too many pictures find they way to these and other locations, take some time for a digital photo-taking orientation — a review of guidelines and expectations. Today’s world is a vastly different place, nothing like the photo-taking environment that most adults remember from their younger days, and photos can end up in unanticipated places or cause unforseen problems.
Photography in the last ten years or so has undergone extraordinary changes. No longer do we buy and load film. Nor do we wait a few days for processing to look at our pictures. Today instant access, in terms of speed and range of circulation, defines photography. Pair this speed with the occasional child or adolescent misjudgment, and an image becomes public in moments. This impulsive image sharing can cause hurt feelings, anger, and even accusations of cyber-bullying.
Kids are digitally smart, but often impulsive. Part of growing up is about learning how to make decisions, weighing the benefits and disadvantages of an action. Understanding the power of images, before something goes wrong, needs to be a part of every child’s education. An embarrassing picture, which in the old days would circulate among a few kids, causing mild consternation or irritation, now be comes even more troubling, because it circulates digitally among large groups, causing extreme humiliation.
Parents may not feel as digitally sophisticated as their children, but they know about making decisions to benefit the security of their children as well as the greater good. In a sense, the old adage — a picture is worth a thousand words — was a non-digital era saying. Today that same picture in digital form may be worth a million.
Protect children by helping them understand the power of a picture.