Most children love to take photos. Lots of photos. Photography is a great skill for kids to learn. But, you don't want to be in the situation where your child has managed to take an embarrassing photo and share it with the world.
Before you hand over a digital camera (or indeed any kids of camera) it's worth putting in place some ground rules to make sure your child knows how to use a camera responsibly.
Asking Permission before Taking a Photo
It's good practice to get children into the habit of asking people before they take photos, especially close-up photos of individuals.
Lay down clear rules about taking photos of family members. Teenage siblings might not want to have their photographs taken unless they are in a very good mood!
Teach children than some situations and some information is private. For example, it's not appropriate to take a photo of a computer screen when someone is checking their email.
It's a good idea to have some ground rules about where a camera can be used, such as no cameras in bathrooms and no cameras in bedrooms before breakfast or at bedtime. You might allow a camera in the bedroom for special occasions like a birthday or Christmas, but these should be agreed in advance.
Not Taking Embarrassing Photos
Even if a child has permission to take photos of someone it's not always considerate to do so. Encourage children to think about whether a person would be happy to have their photo taken.
A younger brother might want to avoid the camera when upset and an older sister might not want to be photographed kissing her boyfriend.
Deleting Photos When Asked
Children might sometimes take an embarrassing photo accidentally, or the subject could just really dislike a photo. It's polite to delete such photos when asked.
Taking Photos in Public Places
It's usually okay to take photos in public places. Schools and swimming pools are common exceptions. Teach your child to ask if they are not sure.
Most theatres also prohibit cameras during performances. The flash and movement is distracting for the actors and the rest of the audience. Photographs of school plays might be permitted (but not sharing.)
Cinemas (movie theaters) strongly prohibit taking videos and recording movies is illegal under many circumstances. Don't allow children to use their cameras in a cinema and make sure older children understand the rules.
Some attractions don't allow photos taken on their property to be shared. Older children who have the ability and permission to share photos need to be aware of these rules.
If children are taking photos at an event you should teach them to be considerate of others. It's not fun to have to watch a show with a camera waving around in front of you.
It's very easy for kids to get in the way of others when taking photos when out and about. Encourage them to be aware of their surroundings and not get in the way of others.
These toys are best used with family members and friends who have been warned that they could be used.
Sharing photos is now part of everyday life and children and teenagers want to be part of this. Of course there are pitfalls to be avoided.
- Children should not share identifying information about themselves or other children.
- Photos of some children should not be shared online for their own safety.
- Photos may contain private information. (E.g. a password written down on a scrap of paper.)
- School and children's clubs and camps often ask that photos are not shared on social media.
- Some photos can be embarrassing if shared. Children often don't have the judgement to realize this.
- Some parents prefer not have any photos of their children shared until they are old enough to make that decision for themselves.
Many children's websites allow photos to be uploaded and shared. For example, Scratch permits this. For younger children it's best to have the rule of always asking before uploading any photo to a website.
Teenagers may well have their own social media accounts. It's important to discuss with them what is appropriate to share. This applies to photographs of themselves as well as photos of others.
One you've made sure your young photographer understands how to use their camera safely then you can relax and enjoy the many thousands of awesome photos of sticks, cereal boxes, blurry things you can't identify and so much more.
Let us know in the comments if you have any stories to share about kids and photography or any more tips that parents should know about.
You might also like: A Hands-On (and Off!) Review of the VTech KidiZoom Action Cam for Kids