My social media relationship with my 11-year-son is a very simple one. Once a year I post a returning-to-school picture of him on Facebook and he is the one who gives me permission to use it and who signs off that picture.
Five years previously when our family went to India for a two-year sabbatical, I used to post pictures of him and our family to that network all the time. Finally, however, I realised that not only was I losing copyright and control of those images, but those pictures could end up in the wrong hands.
For others, especially certain female celebrities, the recently hacking of Apple's iCloud underscored the dangers of images in the digital domain. The dark web does exist, and within it are people you would never invite around your house for dinner, so why let them anywhere near pictures of your children?
Such misappropriation of such images can range from the unthinkable to the relative innocent. A simple Google of 'funny baby with caption' throws up thousands of images that were obviously not posted by those children and initially posted by well-meaning parents sharing them with friends and family WITHOUT any form of permission from the kids.
As these kids, including my 11-year-old, grow up as digital natives, there will be anger about the frivolous way their images were shared to the world at large and another aspect of their adolescence that will be angry at us for doing so.
But parents want to share their love of their children, that is human nature and their friends and family want to see pictures of their nephews and nieces, Godchildren and Grandchildren.
One UK startup that wants to curate family pictures in an exclusive and protected environment is 23snaps.com, a free private social network that allows parents to save photos, videos and stories of their children to a digital journal and privately share those updates with other family members or close friends.
Founded in 2012, 23snaps.com is available not only as a website, but also as a free app on all mobile platforms. There are now more than 500,000 subscribers in 179 countries who have used the service to post millions of photos, videos and other updates. The company generates revenue through the sale of photo books and photo prints, with other revenue streams coming on board soon.
According to the company's website, the name for the company came from the 'casual English word for photographs' and the number 23 because it is the number of chromosomes that make up a human's genetic code. There is, so to speak, more than one picture to tell a story.
"Around every child, there are usually five to twelve people that can't get enough photos and videos of them. For everyone outside of that circle, the daily avalanche of baby photos is unwelcome.
"With the speed at which everything copied and reposted on the internet, it is important for parents to have a private and secure environment where they can journal every moment of their child's life, and easily share it with their loved ones who can't wait to get the next update," said Ivailo Jordanov, CEO 23snaps.com.
The company's natural rivals are those of Facebook and its $1 billion acquisition Instagram, as are the private sharing of these types of content via MMS and email.
Privacy-conscious people from the older generation consider these channels to be safer and more appropriate. Apart, however, from delivering the content to the recipient, they don't provide any organisational capabilities or encourage conversation and interaction with the content.
While Grandma still has to rummage through her inbox to find the photo of Danny on his first birthday, using 23snaps means all generations can access a digital map of a child's development and special moments, creating a lasting memory.
"The environment that we are creating in 23snaps.com is akin to the one around the dinner table at Christmas time, where the whole family is together lovingly sharing notable moments from the past year." continues Ivailo.
Think of the recent Boyhood movie directed by Richard Linklater and one of the favourites for a Best Picture Oscar next year. Filmed over 12 years with the same cast, the movie is a stunning diary of how not only the film's characters evolve, but the actors themselves.
With 23snaps, a family's community can not only be assured that the pictures they are looking at will stay private, but they will be able to see a continuous image timeline of that child's very existence.
Not only the whole family will enjoy this digital journal in real time, but once the the child is old enough, they will be able to inherit their account with all of the content and interactions and eventually continue to populate it with photos and videos of the children of their own.
It also means that I may need to change digital strategy with my son. With this channel and 23snaps, he is likely to be posting pictures of ME in years to come and it is probably best that only close friends and family see those particular pictures.Suggest a correction