Is it ever okay to use pictures of kids without consent?

A BritMums blogger found herself at the centre of a hotly-debated topic over the last couple of days, and has documented the discussion on her blog, After seeing a fellow Twitter user sharing images of a stranger’s overweight children in a supermarket, Scottish Mum asked if this was really acceptable, and stirred a range of conflicting and often emotive arguments… 

“It’s simple for me, but not for all,” she says.

A couple of photographers even responded angrily to Scottish Mum’s reaction. “As far as they are concerned,” she says, “they are going to take pictures of anyone, anywhere, and do whatever they want with them, including anybody’s kids that they take pictures of.

“As far as they are concerned, people like me who would like to be asked before their kids pics were put on the internet are idiots.

“In my view, the least anyone can do morally and ethically is to ask permission of parents of children that you are taking pictures of, if it is okay to use them in a public online place. Many, many people have valid reasons for NOT wanting recognisable pictures of their children posted online. I don’t think it’s an unreasonable expectation to want to be asked before for such an intrusion.”

One person who disagreed suggested that just because Scottish Mum had children, she did not have the right to take the moral high ground. “The other told me that we shouldn’t go out in public if we don’t want to be photographed!”

Scottish Mum says that the photography students she debated with have been told that pictures taken in a public place are fair game, and that it is up to their “own code of ethics and morality” what they then do with them.

What is the definition between public and private, would, for example, a wedding reception on the beach be a public or private place?

Scottish Mum received support from many parenting bloggers who felt the same as she did, “that random children should not be used for the sake of someone else’s idea of art.

“To me, if they have to ignore the potential subjects feelings to portray what the photographer wants to, then there is something wrong with using or taking the picture.

“That is my opinion, and I am open to discussing others opinions on the subject which seems to be a huge emotive debate.

“If someone did that to my children I would be furious, and I would hope that if anyone saw pictures of my children on the internet without consent, that someone would stand up for them.”

Read the full account of the experience on Scottish Mum’s blog.

What do you think? Should it be ‘fair game’ for anybody to take pictures of your children when they are out and about, and then share these on the internet? Is there realistically any way of tracking this, let alone preventing it? We’d love to hear your views. 


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About Holly Seddon

Holly Seddon is the BritMums blog editor. She’s a writer, editor and community consultant and helped launched the community for Adoption UK, which won charity website of the year just 9 months later. She also writes a music blog and is a near-constant presence on the BritMums network.