Last week, my social feeds were all abuzz with chatter about whether it is responsible or not to post photos of your kids online. There was a Slate article that was making parents feel guilty about posting pictures of their children. The author laid out how she and her husband are going to great lengths to keep a lock on their new daughter’s digital footprint. She didn’t just list kid photos not to post online, she said no photos were acceptable, period. It was intense. I will admit that it gave me pause, for about a split second, then reality settled in. My children weren’t born into the digital age, they were already here when it came about. They have grown and evolved along side it just as I have. Of course their situation is a bit unique, because not only does their mother work in the social media sphere, she is also a nationally recognized Children’s TV personality. We aren’t being hounded by paparazzi, but my kids have been photographed for an article or two, and they have joined me on stage for my concert tours, as well as appeared in my videos and interstitials. People know and recognize them. That’s why I never bothered to mask their names in my postings. It seemed rather futile. That doesn’t mean that I post willy nilly about my kids. I don’t. I have specific rules that I crafted to serve as my very own digital moral compass if you will. I have dedicated rules for Instagram and for Facebook that I have posted about, but when it comes to pictures of my children, on any platform, I operate more from a list of “don’ts” than “do’s.” Just as a suggestion, a jumping off point if you will, here are 9 kid photos not to post online. (The example photos I have provided are all of yours truly. No kids were harmed in the making of these points.)
Responsible Parenting and Positing in This Digital Age 1 of 10
Don’t Bathe Your Kids In Public 2 of 10
There is no denying that bathtub pictures of our kids are absolutely adorable. Bubbles are the best photo accessory, and the smiles that always seem to accompany them produce memories worth holding onto. I say go ahead and capture those pictures, print them out, and put them in a photo album. Then you can break out the album whenever you want to embarrass your child in front of live company. The key word being LIVE.
Don’t Shine A Light On Your Child’s Bad Behavior 3 of 10
I don't know a single parent who hasn't endured a public temper tantrum from their child. I mean let's face it, they are bad enough in private, but when they are on display in the checkout line or in the parking lot, we all turn a shade of red for a variety of reasons. So why would you ever want to post photographic evidence of such an event for all the world to gawk at? Not to mention potentially provoke another outburst. Let your child be a kid, for better or for worse.
Don’t Wake The Baby With The Flash 4 of 10
I always say whenever I look at my kids sleeping, at any age, I fall in love with them all over again. It's an absolutely beautiful thing, a sleeping child. So angelic. That's why I can completely understand the impulse to post such a moment online to share with others. I struggle with it myself. Sometimes I even give in to the urge, but in my heart I feel that this vulnerable state is just that, too vulnerable to be shared publicly. Let them sleep in peace.
Don’t Turn a Playdate Into a Commercial Shoot 5 of 10
Our kids are cute enough on their own, but when they get with their friends they are down right irresistible. However, if ever there is a time to resist the instinct to snap off a picture or two, playdates are the time. That is unless you got a photo release signed by the visiting childs' parents when they dropped them off. Never assume you have permission where other people's children are concerned. In truth you have no rights at all. Ask. Ask. Ask. That's what I do at home and at my Concerts.
Don’t Let Sad Days Haunt Kids 6 of 10
I remember this day, or at least I remember days like it. Hurts and sadness as a child always seemed soooooo huge. They felt like they would never, ever subside. And the worst thing anybody could do is make light of your pain, dismiss it in any way. That's really what I remember about this picture. Not what made me sad in the first place, but that my father was teasing me while taking this picture. He was dismissing my anger and that's what made me cry, his taking the photo at all. My dad wasn't trying to hurt me. He's a good guy, but in that moment he was making a parenting mistake. Lucky for me it only lived in my personal photo box and not on the internet. I'm an adult now so I can handle it living in infamy here, but then...then it would have been devastating.
Don’t Post Pics That Your Kids Have To Live Down 7 of 10
Some of the best family memories are built from laughter and silliness. Catching your child with a spaghetti noodle coming out of their nose, or with toilet paper escaping from their shorts. Not to mention cute costumes they might have worn while playing, unsuspecting, in the house. Again, fantastic fodder for the "oh you think you are cool, well guess again" goto album to break out on their first date, but not for use online. Why? Because school is hard enough, and kids are ruthless. (Not yours or mine of course.) You don't want to post anything your child will be forced to try and live down. That really wouldn't be funny at all.
Don’t Post Wardrobe Near Malfunctions 8 of 10
When I was growing up my clothes never seemed to fit right. I was always growing and expanding, but my clothes would stay the same. Unfortunately they just wouldn't always stay in the same place they were meant to which sometimes led to wardrobe malfunctions, or very near misses. It's easy to overlook the near misses. The button missed, the zipper not quite up, the extra patch of skin. It's easy for you to overlook them, but there are creepy people out there who live to look at just those very oversights. Not something you really want to think about so just don't give them any bait.
Don’t Out Your Teens’ Sexuality 9 of 10
Young love. As much as puppy love can give a parent heartburn we all want it to exist in our children's lives. So, if we happen to be around to witness that first kiss, or tender embrace, we can't help but capture it on our phone or with the video camera. Yes, it is called PDA, but even PDA deserves some privacy. Not to mention the fact that, as we all can agree, puppy love has a tendency to be fleeting. (Shhh don't tell them that. It will only make them mad.) You don't want to complicate your teens' future relationships by tagging a past one. That would be so totally uncool. Almost as uncool as my calling it uncool.
Don’t Ignore It When Your Kid Says NO 10 of 10
Bottom line, no means NO. Your kids should have a right to police their own image. Just because you gave birth to them doesn't mean you get to trump their wishes. Well, at least on this subject. Everything else you can trample over at will. :)
Yes, big brother is watching… and big sister, big cousin, big uncle… they are all watching. But guess what, we are watching them too, because that’s the world we live in. I’m all about leading by example in the work that I do, and I approach my digital footprint with the same attitude. I have rules, and standards that I adhere to as I conduct myself socially. I share those practices, not only with my children, but with my entire community. Let’s face it we are digital pioneers here. We are going to make mistakes, but if we share our journeys we can inform and mold the future so that the digital space won’t be quite so scary. Well, no scarier than life itself.
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