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The Viral Lives of Children

The representation of everyday children in our media-driven society often ignores how parents shape their child’s digital presence long before the child is able to have a say. Issues of privacy and protection, hotly debated in other arenas, are overlooked as parents post images and videos on social media. Katie Elson Anderson focuses on the issues of protection and privacy as everyday children’s lives go viral. —Cyndi Maurer, PhD (editor)


YouTube is full of adorable babies, sassy toddlers, precocious preschoolers, and talented and entertaining elementary school students. When a video goes viral, besides being viewed on the internet, it can be widely shared by other media outlets, including the nightly news or a late night comedy show. In some cases, adults are encouraged to share videos in which they do mean things to their children, such as tell them they ate all of their Halloween candy (Jimmy Kimmel Live, 2015). The child’s reactions and emotions become entertainment for a broad audience, violating the child’s right to privacy, which encompasses the right to cry about a hurtful event without being put on display.

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