I just cringed.
A Facebook acquaintance had posted a picture of a whole pile of cash she had found in a junk drawer. Great find! But WHY would you put it on the INTERNET?? Don’t you realize you’re just ASKING to get robbed or mugged?
Maybe I’m too cautious or old-fashioned, but there are just some things that do NOT need to be broadcasted for all the world to see. Wads of cash, intimate details of your marriage or sex life, a picture of me when I first wake up in the morning…
Some things the world just doesn’t need to see. With a number of these things, it’s a sanity issue. For others, it’s about privacy. In the case of the huge stack of large denomination bills, it’s a safety concern.
When it comes to displaying my child on the internet, it’s all of the above and more.
Why you won’t see pictures of my child online
Our decision to keep our daughter’s picture off the internet — including all social media channels — has not been a super popular one among our friends and family. Well, how else are we supposed to keep up on what’s going on? You live so far away!
Obviously, it’s not an easy decision to stick to when everyone else we know has all sorts of cute pictures of their newborns filling my feed on a daily basis. I WANT to tell the world how funny and amazing my little girl is!
But, when those feelings strike, I hit back with exactly WHY we made this decision do start with:
Especially with advent of GPS tagging on pictures from smart phones, it is incredibly easy for predators to find any details they want about our lives from our social media accounts. With just a few clicks, they can see exactly where we live, what parks we frequent, what church we attend, and put together a pretty complete picture of where we will be at any given moment during the week.
Doesn’t that just creep you out a little bit?? No untrustworthy people should have access to that kind of information about my family.
If my child were in school, and I took a picture of her class play and posted it to Facebook, any creep could find out what school she attends and decide to go “visit” her during recess or after school before I arrive to pick her up.
(One more reason I’m planning to homeschool! But, that’s a topic for another day.)
While we were awaiting the birth of our daughter, my mom said she had seen several news articles about desperate women stalking newborns on social media, then attempting to kidnap the babies to raise as their own. There are enough weird-but-true stories in that vein to keep me cautious. (There are a bunch of crime drama episodes about babies and children being targeted, too — I just can’t watch those anymore!)
If you haven’t already, PLEASE consider turning geo-tagging OFF on your smart phone. If you really NEED that information, you can add locations when you save your photos to your desktop, external hard drive, or wherever you store your pictures. See these articles for step-by-step instructions on how to turn off geo-tracking on Androids and PCs, as well as on iPhones and iPads.
Naked baby pictures may be cute right now, but what happens 20 years down the line when her would-be employer decides to search for her online and finds those same photos? What if your baby boy is in line for a prestigious internship when he gets to college, but the application committee finds a whole slew of posts about his antics as a toddler or teenager and decides he isn’t a good fit?
What WE post about our kids online today has the potential to haunt them throughout their adult lives. Once information lands on the internet, it STAYS there FOREVER. It may be buried on page 16 of a Google search, but if someone is doing a thorough background check, they’re going to find it.
We had childhoods where our embarrassing moments may be shared with family at Christmas or Thanksgiving, but they aren’t memorialized online for all of eternity. Kids have a right to make mistakes, learn, and grow without fear of whatever they do landing on the internet.
We want our daughter to decide what her online presence should be. As I pointed out in the previous point, what we post about our children in the present will still be around for years and YEARS to come. It needs to be our children’s responsibility to create their online persona and work through the consequences and rewards that come with their choices.
In my post on using The Personalities with our kids, I was reminded that it is my job as a parent to raise my child in the way SHE should go. Not the way *I* think she should go. (Proverbs 22:6) It is my job to guide her toward wise decision-making skills, not make the decisions for her.
Honestly, whatever online profile I might create for my child through my posts and pictures is probably not how SHE will want the world to view her one day. If I want her to take responsibility for her own actions, I need to reserve a blank slate for her. I was offered that opportunity simply by virtue of the year I was born. Shouldn’t she be given the same chance to make her way in the online world?
My reminder to stand firm
Periodically, I am tempted to change my stance on this issue. But wouldn’t it be easier to just post this to Facebook? Surely ONE little post couldn’t do THAT much damage, could it?
But, I always come back to these three issues of safety, privacy, and responsibility. We want to raise a child in as safe and as private an environment as we can provide in this tech-crazy world. We want her to be responsible for her own decisions and learn to navigate life online as she grows and becomes mature enough to handle it, without any added pressure or set-up from us.
Alternatives for sharing with family & friends
OUR motives are clear, but that doesn’t always make them easy to explain. We still needed a good system for recording C’s memorable moments and share them with close family and friends. Here are the two sharing methods we’ve been using the past several years that have worked fairly well for us:
23snaps is a closed circuit sharing platform with both a web application and start phone apps. No one can see the pics/stories we publish except those we invited. We had to be choosy! We only invited our families, closest friends, and our birth team.
Honestly, we probably invited too many people into our “family,” but at least we know exactly who is receiving our posts. No creepers and no sharing — outside of grandparents showing their latest updates to everyone they meet on their phones. Not much different than carrying around pictures in their wallets, I suppose.
Monthly/Quarterly email newsletters
I had been sending out email newsletters ever since I left for college, so adding my husband and then our daughter was a natural extension of a process I already had set up. For years, I just wrote a text-only email. Either I didn’t think my single life was exciting enough to warrant photographic documentation or it just wasn’t a “thing” yet. I’m not really sure.
But, eventually, people started wanting to see pictures — and I wanted to share them! So, I typed up my newsletter in Word and added a few pictures. Not super pretty, but functional. Using Publisher helped make the newsletters look a bit more polished when I had access to it.
After starting this blog, however, and discovering the wonder that is an email marketing service, I started designing my newsletters with their drag-and-drop editors. Man, so much nicer! Plus, I can include links to y blog and other online things I want my people to see. Very polished, easy to write, and easy for readers to open without having to download an attachment.
If you’re interested in going this route for your own family, some email marketing services are free up to a certain number of subscribers and provide you with a variety of templates and easy, drag-and-drop newsletter creating platforms. I use MailerLite for my newsletters, and I LOVE it. It’s FREE up to 1000 subscribers and very intuitive to use. Plus, their customer service is AWESOME! I highly recommend checking out MailerLite if you’re like me and get easily frustrated with less-than-polished-looking newsletters. Sanity saved! ?
What are your thoughts about posting kid pics online?
Obviously, I realize there is a bit of controversy here, and I’m definitely not in the majority. I’d love to hear your thoughts about why you do or do not post about your kids online. But please remember: keep it civil! We’re talking about an ISSUE here, not attacking a PERSON or their parenting choices.
We all have to make these decisions for ourselves. My goal is simply to make sure we all have the information we need to make informed choices.
Happy parenting, y’all!
As a former University Resident Director, Career Counselor, Certified Personality Trainer, and high school Spanish teacher, Laura has quite the “scattered” background — with one underlying theme: education! She writes to teach and inspire women on topics related to faith, family, and lifework. She is also a resume writer, specializing in resumes for moms, career changers, and new graduates.