There is huge potential for misuse of images which are put online and organisations such as NSPCC are working to raise the issues and make providers aware of the risks so appropriate measures can be put in place. Once posted online photos or videos of children can be shared, copied and manipulated and, depending on the website, you lose control of what happens to them. A recent article in the Guardian newspaper stated, ‘Every time you post about your child on social media you are helping to create for them a data-rich, enduring and potentially problematic online profile. ‘
Every childminder and early years provider must have a written Mobile Phone and Digital Camera Policy to comply with the statutory requirements of the EYFS. This policy should include information about how photos are shared on digital media and the steps you take to keep them secure. You can find more information about writing this policy in this blog.
Before an inspector comes out for inspection, they will Google us – just like we Google them. If they see anything that worries them when checking our websites, Facebook pages, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat accounts etc they will follow it up during inspection.
Ofsted want to see a robust attitude to safeguarding children’s images online. Childminders must be registered with ICO as data handlers and they must inform parents where photos might be used (Facebook, WhatsApp, emails etc). If you change the ways you use photos – for example, you start using a new application – then you will need to update your permission form and make sure parents are happy with the change.
ICO registration requires childminders to ask for written permission from parents before photos are taken and used. It is also good practice to ask for the child’s permission before putting photos on the internet (depending on age of course).
However, even with written permission from parents and ICO registration in place, Ofsted inspectors might decide that early years providers are not being safe enough with children’s photos – especially if they are linked with a child’s name eg a photo tagged with a parents’ name and ‘here’s Jack in the sand’, if they give your place of work or if they are uploaded in a freely accessible place such as an unsecured website, blog page or Facebook page. There is also a greater awareness of the risk of, for example, cyber bullying and grooming for abuse if a child’s photo appears online with a comment about, for example, their hobby or the name of the childminding provision, nursery or school. In some instances, photos of children who are currently the subject of child protection cases have been placed on unsecured websites and Facebook pages and this has led to them being found.
I never advise early years providers use photos of childminded children (especially with names attached) on anything that doesn't have secure password protection (letters, numbers and special characters are best), strong privacy settings, encryption, regularly updated virus protection or other security such as being hidden from public view. If you share photos of childminded children on Facebook or other internet accounts, I suggest you have a private, hidden page set up for your current parents - you can then remove them from the page as soon their child leaves. When you ask parents to sign to give permission to add their child’s photos to the page, ask them to sign to confirm they will not share or misuse the photos of their own child or other children – if they refuse to do this or they do re-share or misuse a photo without your permission, withdraw their permission to access the page.
If you use an online learning journey application or website it is important to check the security of the site carefully. You need to be sure that the photos are secure when uploaded and that you continue to own the rights to the photos after you have uploaded them and they do not become the property of the owner of the application or website. You should also check the website is secure and data cannot be harvested by criminals or online predators.
If you want to keep photos of childminded children after a child has left the provision, you need written permission from parents – note that this permission can be withdrawn at any time if parents change their mind. This includes keeping photos of childminded children on digital media such as on your camera, in your mobile phone, in a WhatsApp message or on your website or Facebook page.
If you want to use Facebook or other internet sites for advertising, there is nothing stopping you from having a public page to which you can add non-child photos.
You might find it useful to share information with parents about keeping their child safe on digital media and keeping family information such as photos secure – this has come up a few times on recent Ofsted inspection reports. You might also plan activities to teach the children in your care about online safety and work with the older children to help them manage their own online safety and stay safe online.
If you have any questions or would like further information or advice, please contact me.
Thank you, Sarah