“Mom … you may not post anything without my consent.”

An Instagram exchange between Gwyneth Paltrow and her 14 year old daughter has sparked a debate over whether parents publishing photos of their children is a violation of their right to privacy.

Some people sided with the daughter, noting that her desire for privacy or anonymity may be in part because her mother is a celebrity that has chosen a life in the public eye. Others sided with the parent’s authority and the right to make decisions about what they choose to publish online.

Gwyneth Paltrow with her daughter Apple, in a photo she consented to sharing

So who is right?

It could be that this is just the modern age equivalent of being embarrassed to be seen with your parents. Or it could be that the cute and embarrassing photos of your child makes them a target for online bullying.

A more constructive way to look at the issue is to acknowledge that if we want our children to care about what they publish and share of themselves online, then we need to start with an open dialogue that empowers them to make these decisions. If we want them to respect themselves enough to selectively share images that may be used inappropriately, then we need to show them what respect and consent looks like. That can begin by simply showing them what images you wish to share, who you will share it with and where.

One of the key messages we aim to promote on the Guardian Network is this – start the discussion. Ask your child if they mind having their photos shared online, and you may be surprised by their response.

Join our Facebook group if you’d like to share your experience or chat about these issues in more depth.