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#warriors: sick children, social media and the right to an open future
  1. Elise Burn
  1. Centre for Children's Health Ethics and Law, Queensland Children's Hospital, South Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Elise Burn, Queensland Children's Hospital Centre for Children's Health Ethics and Law, South Brisbane, QLD 4101, Australia; elise.burn{at}


The phenomenon of ‘sharenting’, whereby a parent shares news and images of their child on social media, is of growing popularity in contemporary society. There is emerging research into children’s attitudes regarding sharenting and their associated concerns regarding privacy; however, this research most often involves young people who are approaching adulthood and are competent to participate. As a result, children who experience illness or disability are largely absent from current research, and as such, the moral permissibility of a parent sharing their child’s illness journey on a public social media platform is largely unexplored. In this essay, I explore this issue by using the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and Joel Feinberg’s principle of the child’s right to an open future as the basis of my argument: that children with illness and disability have the same rights as healthy children to privacy, identity and an open future and that publication of their illness on a social media platform violates these rights. I conclude that parents, as surrogate decision makers for their children, have the same responsibilities in protecting their child’s privacy as they do in making medical decisions on behalf of their children. As children of the social media generation approach adulthood, it is important to consider the rights of those who cannot speak for themselves and the ethical consequences of sharenting for children with illness and disability.

  • children
  • confidentiality/privacy
  • disability
  • ethics
  • information technology

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  • Contributors This work was undertaken as a Masters research project. All work is the author's own, with draft review and feedback provided by Dr Peter Douglas from Monash University, Melbourne.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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