In a recent article on Slate.com, author Amy Webb admits that she shares absolutely no photos of her daughter online, in an effort to "defend her against facial recognition, Facebook profiling and corporate data mining." While I do think that Ms. Webb is being a little overprotective — OK, a lot — it seems that in our social media heavy world, we've become a little overzealous in what we share online.
Anne Boyson, futurist and author of the blog After the Millenials, worries about the "new normal" social media has provided parents. "… The underlying assumption we are using here is that we, as parents, have proprietary rights to our children's future legacy and might be accidentally sharing details that their future selves will find too intimate," Boyson says, adding that intimacy is subjective on the children's part.
While the following scenarios are perfectly fine to document for posterity, for the sake of our children's safety and privacy, be careful which ones make it to the Facebook or Instagram streams.
1^ Clothing optional
Parents: Stop posting photos of your children in their underwear on the internet.
Let me tell you a story. I once did an innocent photo-documented "day in the life" post on my personal blog. When putting it together, I used my best judgment to decide which photos of my children were appropriate and which were not, because in the warmer months, my children are rarely fully clothed. In the weeks that followed, my site received hits from image searches for "panties" and similar phrases that made me very uncomfortable. All led to that one post.
I ended up taking the majority of the images down, and the searches immediately stopped. The truth is, as innocent as your photos may seem to you, there are some sick people out there who don't have the best of intentions.
On Twitter or Facebook, hashtags such as "#pottytraining" will take you to tweets or updates about parents going through the often unpleasant rite of passage. But on the popular photo sharing app Instagram, the hashtag leads to photo after photo of children sitting on the toilet, often naked. The only children I can withstand to see doing their business are my own, and that's stretching it.
Think of it this way: if you wouldn't want a photo of yourself on the toilet published to the internet, give your children that same opportunity to retain their dignity.
Filming your preschooler's tantrum and playing it back to show them how ridiculous they are acting can teach your child a good lesson. Filming your preschooler's tantrum and posting it on Facebook for your own entertainment is a form of shaming. What's worse is that your child likely doesn't even know you're sharing it.
Children's emotions are raw and genuine, even the negative ones. Instead of posting to garner comments and likes, talk to your child about their behavior in the video. What do they think about their actions when they see it played back?
What can you post?
All any of this means is that parents should proceed with caution when choosing to share a photo of their children on the internet. Boyson predicts that curating a positive identity for your child could actually do them good, in that it can become a "lifetime resume" of sorts.
While we as parents reserve the rights to take and share photos of our young children, let's look outside the moment a little and think about how this could impact them in the future. Is it appropriate? Would it embarrass anyone? Is it safe? Today's unclothed, cute moment is tomorrow's regret. Save the naked potty photos for the private albums that only come out when their new fiancé(e) is visiting.