Opinion: Stop posting videos of your crying children on the internet

father telling his daughter no to buying cakes and be calm , crying in store
Photo credit: Getty

OPINION: I remember when I first began to use the Internet it was hammered into me by my mother that I should never post any identifying information. 

Don't use your real name, don't share personal details and definitely don't post pictures of yourself.

But the rules have changed and a disturbing new trend is emerging. Parents are posting videos of their crying and vulnerable children on social media to raise awareness of how bullying can affect them.

In the last few weeks, nine-year-old Quaden Bayles went viral on social media after his mother posted a harrowing video of him crying and expressing the desire to kill himself.

On Thursday, a Kiwi mother posted a video of her non-verbal 12-year-old in tears after allegedly being bullied at her special education school. 

This happens periodically - an upset parent posts their even more upset child and says something needs to change. People obsess, the story goes viral and then it fades from global consciousness - but the digital footprint remains, and at some point, that child will step into it. 

We all remember being told not to post too much of our lives but these children aren't offered the option. 

A study from 2010 found 92 percent of children already had an online presence by the time they are two years old. Ten years on, the number will be significantly higher.

Posting videos of your crying children might raise awareness for their situation - but it also raises issues around privacy and consent.

Founder of the British Psychological Society's Media Ethics Advisory Group Professor John Oates says there is potential for serious psychological harm when this kind of content is posted online. 

"There's the question of what the child will think of these materials, which are there for all time basically, when they're older and when they have a better capacity to judge what they were induced to engage in," he said in a 2017 interview.

He said posting content of children online could lead to further bullying from their peers - but as we've seen it can also lead to abusive behaviour from grown adults. 

The internet is not a comforting place - it's like high school on crack and no one feels like there are consequences for their actions because they can hide behind a keyboard. 

Take Quaden Bayles. In the days following his mother's post on Facebook, he received an outpouring of support from celebrities. But in the days after that, things turned nasty.

Bayles was accused of being a scam artist who was just trying to steal money from people. A bizarre conspiracy theory spawned that he was actually an 18-year-old actor out for cash.

The theory was (obviously) disproved but the fact remains that one mother's action sparked a firestorm online. And while Bayles' story will inevitably fade from the minds of the world, in the eyes of his peers he will always be known as the kid who cried. 

I understand the desire to make things better for your children and the urge to make people see the impact their actions have on your babies. 

But what I don't understand is the need to post evidence of your children at their most vulnerable for the world to see.

Comfort your child when they cry - don't publicise their tears. 

Vita Molyneux is a digital producer for Newshub.