An Oct. 21 parenting column in a western New York newspaper quoted Willamette Law Prof. Andrew Gilden on children and social media. Gilden teaches property, internet and copyright law, in addition to other topics.
The column’s author, Michelle Blackley Glynn, asked whether parents should protect the digital identity of their children by limiting posts and pictures about them on the internet and social media. Because the children are minors, what rights do they have in regards to their photo being shared on the web?
Gilden, who teaches internet and copyright law, said the main issue is that there isn’t any control.
“That posted video may be cute at the time, but when the kid grows up and embarks on a career, it could be embarrassing,” he said. “From a policy perspective, it’s up to the social media companies. Legally comparable is the California ‘Online Eraser’ Law, which requires social media companies to allow people the ability to delete posts that were made public when they were minors.”
On top of the access issue, Glynn said another problem is the effects of social media on children’s mental wellbeing. Social media posts often present a façade and not the full context behind an image — exaggerated good times, Glynn said.
“This is an issue that comes up a lot: How much can you read into someone’s smile? There is a sense of what peoples’ lives appear to be on social media are not at all what they really are,” Gilden said. “I often challenge my students, ‘How well can you read happiness into a photo when they are framed to make you see it a certain way?’”
Gilden said with both of these problems adults have a responsibility to help children understand what they’re engaging with online.
About Willamette University College of Law
Opened in 1883, Willamette University College of Law is the first law school in the Pacific Northwest. The college has a long tradition at the forefront of legal education and is committed to the advancement of knowledge through excellent teaching, scholarship and mentorship. Leading faculty, thriving externship and clinical law programs, ample practical skills courses and a proactive career placement office prepare Willamette law students for today's legal job market. According to statistics compiled by the American Bar Association, Willamette ranks first in the Pacific Northwest for job placement for full-time, long-term, JD-preferred/JD-required jobs for the class of 2014 and first in Oregon for the classes of 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015. Located across the street from the state capitol complex and the Oregon Supreme Court, the college specializes in law and government, law and business, and dispute resolution.