We live in a world of sharing, and nowhere else is this more apparent than on social media, on whose platforms we write our thoughts and post photos from our lives.
For someone like me, who lives an ocean away from the majority of her friends and family, social media is a godsend. I love that my friends share photos of their lives on social media and I look forward to seeing the pictures of their new babies and other big milestones. It helps me feel a little less far away and, really, who doesn’t love a cute baby photo?
But when you put anything online, it can easily escape you because you can’t control what everyone else does with it, on what platforms they may repost it, or with whom they share it.
A Question of Consent
Today’s generation of parents is the first one facing the current sharing conundrum. Sharing parts of your life is one thing, but when you begin to share moments of your child’s life it is no longer quite so clear-cut. Your child has no say in what you put online featuring him or her. Those baby pictures of your daughter are really cute, but what if, down the road, she sees that naked-in-the-tub photo and doesn’t agree? (And wants to know why you shared it with the world?)
Potentially embarrassing photos are one problem, but they aren’t the only one. School admissions committees and recruiters often use social media to learn more about applicants and candidates. Old photos and detailed stories often have ways of sharing aspects of ourselves we later wish were hidden, and if you’re posting things about children who are too young to give their consent, you may want to sit down with them when they are older and go through and delete things they are not comfortable sharing online.
It Can Be Touchy Subject
No matter how you feel about sharing photos of your children on social media, there are many people who would agree with you and probably just as many who feel differently. There may not be one right answer for everyone, but think about what the right thing is for you and your family.
If you choose not to have photos of your children put up on any of the many social media sites, make sure others are aware of your desire. Some people may not share your concerns and could even feel like your choice is an attack on them, since they have no such qualms in sharing photos of their own children. On the other hand, if you do want to share photos of your child on social media, you are definitely not alone, although you should respect the privacy of those who request it.
There Are Alternatives to Facebook
I don’t post pictures of my family on my personal blog, and that’s my choice. My face is there, once or twice, so readers can have an idea of who I am – much like the author photo on the back cover of a book – and I do have (many) photos of my dog. I love waking up in the morning and checking out the new Facebook and Instagram photos my friends put up because it helps me stay more connected with them and what is going on in their lives.
But not all of my friends post photos of their kids on sites like Facebook and Instagram. In fact, there are some great alternatives if you want to share photos and stories of your kids, but in a more controlled setting than the majority of the existing social media sites.
You can post pictures to a closed, invite-only site using something like Shutterfly, and have a monthly email digest sent out to those you have invited to view the photos. Another option is to create a password-protected blog and post all your updates there instead of posting them on Facebook.
Regardless of how you feel about sharing photos and updates of your kids on social media sites, now might be a good time to go check your privacy settings. Sites like Facebook are constantly updating and changing settings, so it is a good idea to periodically check your profiles and make sure everything is set the way you want it. This is always a good thing to do but it is especially important if you are sharing pictures of your children, too. You are the gatekeeper to their digital privacy, and it is a job that should be taken seriously.