You don’t own that.

Well, it’s happened. Our son is on Instagram. And it turns out the biggest issue I’m having with this next phase is what he is posting.

Or, to be more specific, who owns what he’s posting.

My son's Instagram
Our son’s Instagrams

This month he posted 20 photos and videos, of which 7 were original. The rest are memes and images from the Internet. Looking through the feeds of his friends, I realize that he is only doing what everyone else is doing – which makes it difficult when I try to explain he and his friends are stealing.

Every try to explain intellectual property to a 12 year old? It feels a little bit like talking to a brick wall.

(The situation is complicated by the fact that he has been taught at school how to find and use photos from the Internet for presentations without explanation of copyright).

While I’ve threatened to leave comments on images he’s “lifted” – “Hey sweetie! From whom did you steal this particularly amusing image?” – I’ve compromised by encouraging him to give attribution for the images he uses.

Tonight in a  fit of parental insanity I made him add credit to a few of the images he posted.

I’m sure our son believes I’m making a big deal out of nothing. But even adults, many of whom I have to believe were taught about plagiarism in school, have difficulty understanding that online doesn’t mean “for public use.”

And while I will probably not be able to stop him from his image borrowing behavior, I can make sure he thinks twice about posting. If even to consider the possibility his mother might say something really embarrassing.

Thanks to a great conversation through Twitter, friend and educator Tracy Walker shared this video from Common Sense Media about Copyright and Fair Use. Anyone want to guess what we will be watching tonight?