Photos, videos and social media

Uploading photos and videos onto social media services and websites can be a great way to share memorable moments with friends and family, or to boost engagement with your community.

But there can be risks associated with posting photos and videos of children online. There are some things you can do to reduce the risk of photos and videos being shared more widely than you intended.

Tips for taking photos and videos and sharing them online

raising logo and URL

Women taking photos at a sport event

Public and private places

The law treats taking photos or videos in private places and public places differently. In public places you have the right to take a photo unless you do so in a way that is offensive or makes a nuisance to those around you. When an event is taking place at a private place people can enforce rules about photography, so you should consider gaining consent before taking photos and videos.

Think before you post

Once posted online any photo or video can be shared, copied and/or manipulated. You may not be able to control how a photo or video is used by others.

Think about:

  • Who might be able to see these photos?
  • Is there anyone else in this photo? (Be mindful that some people may not want their image to be published) 
  • Will this photo offend anyone?
  • Are there any identifying details in the photo? (Including personal information such as your child's name, landmarks and street signs)

Privacy settings

When uploading photos and videos check your privacy settings on the social media services you use as well as on the device. You can change privacy settings to control who sees your photos.

See our Games, apps and social networking page for further information on privacy settings.

Alternate ways to share photos and videos

Other ways that may give you more control when sharing photos and videos include:

  • sharing photos by email
  • using a secure online portal (secure online facility enabling organisations to authorise access through secure passwords)
  • multimedia messaging service (a standard way to send messages that include photos and videos over a cellular network).

Storing photos and videos taken by teachers or coaches

Ideally organisations and schools should have protocols on the storing of videos and photos which require:

  • secure passcodes/passwords for all devices to stop unauthorised access
  • use of devices that are owned by the organisation and/or school to take photos and videos
  • secure storage of photos and videos (e.g. secure school server) and their deletion from the devices within a reasonable time. 

Sports photographyGeo-location

Sharing photos online can sometimes identify your location.

If you do not want to share your location through your photos:

  • check the location settings on your device to know what apps are using geo–location and turn them off or limit the function
  • ensure that GPS locations and schedules of children’s activities are not shared online. 

Find out more about location based services here.

The risks

Taking these steps and being mindful of safety can help to minimise any risks that come with you sharing photos and videos of your child online. It’s important to remember that some people may have a different interest in your child than you do. There have been cases where innocent images posted on social media or other websites have been ‘harvested’ and used for other purposes. Sometimes predators can narrow down their search of children because of identifying details in photos.

Information for parents and carers

Parents, families and children enjoy seeing photos of their achievements but this should always be done safely.

Can I take photos and videos of my child at school or club events?

Check with the school or organisation that arranged the event. Your child’s school and/or organisation should be able to provide details of their social media policy or photography/recording policy.

What can I do if I have concerns about current photography practices at my child’s school/club/organisation?

Contact the school or organisation directly to raise your concerns. Schools and organisations should be able to refer you to their social media policy. This should provide details about the type of photos that can be posted, the way they will be used and how they obtain consent from parents or carers.

Do photos and videos once posted on social media sites, become the property of the site owners?

Some social media sites give themselves the rights to copy and use your photos and videos. Social media services may have Terms and Conditions or a Statement of Rights and Responsibilities which outlines how they manage sharing your photos, videos and information—these should be reviewed carefully before making any decisions on whether you consent to photos of your child being posted.

A photo or video of my child has been posted online without my permission. How can I get it removed?

In the first instance you should ask the person who posted the photo or video to remove it. If the person refuses or you don’t know who posted it, you may wish to contact or report your concern to the specific social media site.

Visit our Games, apps and social networking pages for more information about contacting or reporting material to social media services.

Information for schools and organisations

Schools, community organisations and sporting clubs may take and share photographs and videos to record events and celebrate achievements. To ensure that everyone can enjoy sharing photos and videos, you should consider having a social media policy and consent arrangements in place.

Does my organisation need a social media policy?

It is good practice for all organisations to have a current social media policy. The policy should provide information on:

  • defining and setting out how your organisation will approach and manage social media
  • what constitutes acceptable and non-acceptable use of social media
  • the unacceptability of cyberbullying/harassment and the steps the organisation will take in response to incidents
  • procedures for monitoring social media accounts
  • use of organisation or school logos/IP or reference to a brand
  • how the organisation trains staff in social media
  • consequences of non-compliance
  • how the organisation will manage the sharing of photos and videos of children.

Social media policies should also include a mechanism to acknowledge and accept the terms of the policy. Further information on social media and sport can be found at the Clearinghouse for Sport website.

What is best practice for photographing and filming children?

Best practice around photographing and filming children includes:

  • seeking parental consent for photos and videos on a child’s enrolment or registration
  • stating whether the organisation permits parents/carers to record events.

For schools please refer to the body representing your school sector for more information on their social media policies.

Do I need to get consent from parents when publishing photos and videos on social media?

Organisations and schools need written consent from the parents/carers of a child or young person for any photos or videos before they are published on any media including social media sites, websites or newsletters.

It is good practice to ensure you provide as much information on the possible use of the image/s to enable parents to have a clear understanding of what they are consenting to. For example; include a description detailing how the image will be used including future use if that is proposed. You may prefer to give parents the option of only agreeing to the use for a particular purpose and with future use needing separate approval. You could do this by including in your consent forms a check box that asks for specific permissions for an event or specific publication and another check box for broader use of an image/s.

Clubs, schools and organisations may wish to seek legal advice when deciding on what approach to take when publishing photos of children. Some organisations only publish photos of children from behind to avoid identification.

Consider including on any consent form that “any image that is published online can be copied and redistributed without the knowledge of the person that uploaded it. Once published, we may not be able to retrieve or delete images if consent is withdrawn after publishing.

How do we manage information, photos and videos posted on our social media sites?

Schools and organisations should appoint a moderator for their social media pages who will be responsible for reviewing and monitoring the content regularly. A moderation policy should also be developed, and should be accessible in the school or organisation’s social media policy. 

The moderator should:

  • be aware of privacy settings on social media services
  • understand the websites/apps that they are using when uploading photos and videos
  • proactively monitor the social media page
  • remove potentially defamatory material as soon as possible.

Information and safety guides for the most popular social media sites and apps can be found on our Games, apps and social networking pages.

What should we be aware of when posting photos and videos?

Photos and videos on social media sites may be easily copied and uploaded to many other websites. Before posting a photo or video consider your intended audience.

Avoid photos and videos that:

  • are indecent, offensive or demeaning to any person
  • harm or injure someone’s reputation and/or open them to public ridicule and embarrassment
  • contain personal details for example full names, personal contact information or uniforms that identify location
  • show a child who is clearly upset or distressed.

The Australian Institute of Family Studies website provides further information on the protection and privacy and the safety of children together with guidance on the publishing images of children and young people online.

For further information on taking photos and videos of children in sporting clubs see the Play by the Rules website.

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