Pictures of Your Kids: to Post or to Pass?
- Friday, October 18, 2013
“I don't know that posting photos online is a huge risk for safety,” agrees Cusey. “I’m more concerned that the kids have privacy and don’t feel like they’re living their life on stage, even in the modern social media kind of way. I’d like them to trust that I’m not going to embarrass them or expose them, even in small ways. I want them to learn to build real relationships over social media ones, or at least make real relationships a priority. Most of all, I want them to tell their own story, not have me tell an idealized version of their story on social media.”
Another concern centers around the information gathering aspects of social media sites. A recent Slate.com article sparked a firestorm when Amy Webb wrote, “When we share even innocent images and information about our kids, we endanger their future anonymity and expose them to data monitoring by governments and private corporations we can’t control.”
“I hate that they are already being tracked and analyzed more than we could even imagine,” says Cusey. “I'd like them to be as anonymous as possible while still being free to partake of the modern world, but it’s not an easy line.”
Think Before Posting
Posting photographs and info about your children has its advantages. It’s definitely a fun, easy way to share your life with family and friends, especially those who live far away. But these parents urge others to exercise caution before clicking on the upload button. Here are some things to think about before you put your children online.
Examine your motives. Why are you putting that picture of your child online? Is it to put an idealized version of yourself out there to be judged? “If 50 people don’t like the cute Instagram of your toddler, does that mean she’s not cute? If people don’t like your son’s adorable lemonade stand on Facebook, does that mean he’s not adorable?” asks Cusey. “And that’s just the public version. What would people think if they saw the tantrums and battiness and bad behavior? I think we need to realize that everything about our lives is not necessarily someone else's business.”
Watch your usage. Those of us who use social media to connect with clients, fans or customers need to be especially careful of posting things about our children. “In the blogging world, it would be easy to put them out there to build a brand. We’re all building brands now, but when your career is writing, your brand is directly linked to your income,” says Cusey, who writes for several blogs and online websites. “It would actually be a version of pimping them out. I don’t want my children to be part of my brand—I want them to be my kids.”
Take safety precautions. At the very least, turn off the GPS tagging features on your smartphones. Don’t mention the location of the photograph. “Do not post the picture as the event is occurring, especially if you are revealing the location, such as a troop camp out at a specific campground,” says Luckabaugh.
Keep private things private. The intimate details of your children’s lives should not become fodder for social media to gobble up. “Do not share extremely private details about a bad behavioral issue with your son, pictures of your daughter in a bikini or medications your child may be taking,” says Luckabaugh. “I am often struck by some parents’ lack of judgment in this regard. Some things need to remain private and parents should always err on the side of caution.”
“I think people need to educate themselves about privacy in general,” adds Wilkin. “My focus is more on protecting the integrity of the parent-child relationship, viewing our children as people, rather than as fodder for our status updates.”
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