Parenting is so visual nowadays. How else do you prove you’re a parent if you haven’t uploaded photos of your offspring on social media?
Media platforms like Facebook and Instagram have been scrambling to figure out how to keep up with the influx of kids photos while updating privacy settings that would, in theory, protect those same kids. They’re arguably doing a terrible job of it, taking down innocent photos of women breastfeeding and ignoring ones that may actually cause offence.
Courtney Adamo of Babycinno had more than 40,000 followers on Instagram when her account was disabled for an adorable photo of her daughter checking out her “big girl” undies. How can you not love this photo?
Unfortunately, the Adamo family were swept up in a media firestorm after her account was shut down. The story was covered all over the world, and Adamo was openly criticized and called horrible names for posting photos of her kids. After public pressure from people who defended Adamo, her Instagram account was reinstated—but without the “big girl undies” picture.
In order for a photo to be removed from a social media platform, there has to be a complaint from a user. This kind of tattling should not come as a surprise anymore as we become more of a helicopter society that professes to protect children, but punishes parents instead. People seemed very concerned that Adamo was allowing potential pedophiles access to photos of her kids online. I usually think that is hyperbole—I prefer to think that the world is a good place, instead of an evil one with a man in a trenchcoat lurking behind every corner.
However, Jessica Gottleib recently wrote a post that made me realize that I was underestimating the potential risks involved in posting pictures of my kids. Gottleib did a Google search of “toddler undies” and, in just a few seconds, came across a man’s personal website that announces his interest in toddler undies (and women’s feet).
Gottleib, a popular US blogger, asks parents to remember that their kids will be adults one day and may not share your feelings about how adorable their bellybutton is. She writes:
I challenged my Facebook friends and asked them please to remember that they don’t own their children as one owns a dog or a piece of furniture. It’s really unfair to exploit their images endlessly and no 12-year-old wants their two-year-old naked photo lingering on Google for their frenemies to find. All I’m asking for is a little foresight.
I, too, love a picture of a naked belly, a little baby tush, and those beautiful fat rolls on a toddler’s body. But I don’t publish them on social media. I made the decision a few years ago not to put up pictures of my kids on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. I have to admit, sometimes I break that rule, but it’s usually with their permission.
It’s not because of a fear of predators, though. I long ago decided that my kids have a right to their own images and their own stories. (Which is slightly hypocritical since I write a parenting blog.) But I don’t want my kids to always be preening for a photo, as if their life is only lived in front of a camera. While I would love to show off my amazing family, I also feel as though general information has become too public.
I don’t want to live in a world where I have to police everyone’s thoughts—or their pictures. Blogger Alice Langley wrote in the Telegraph:
“I don’t like the idea that posting a picture of your child is somehow exploiting them. I can’t police the private thoughts of everyone, or spend my time treading on eggshells because of hypothetical dangers. I let my children be seen in their swimsuits on the beach, but I can’t go around checking whether or not everyone who can see them is having inappropriate thoughts.”
We know that social media sites are terrible at policing the photos that populate their pages. I am so torn on this issue—whose job is it to make sure that the photos of kids are appropriate? The parents or the websites administration? Is it time for parents to stop posting so many photos of their kids?
What are your thoughts on sharing photos of your kids on social media?
Read more: Why my baby won’t be on social media>