There is a Christmas ornament I made in Brownies when I was in first or second grade. It’s a styrofoam star, spray painted gold and festooned with little foil decorations. At the top is a photo of me in my Brownie uniform – complete with beanie perched on unwashed-looking hair – grinning a gap tooth grin from behind my thick, 70’s era glasses. I can look at it now and see the joyful, young cuteness that my mother saw but as a teen, I would not permit that seemingly horrid photo to be displayed on our Christmas tree, lest any of my friends see it.
Imagine if there’d been an Internet back then and that photo had been posted for all to see. My humiliation would have been endless.
I’ve written before about my policy of not posting pictures of my kids in publicly accessible internet space. You won’t find baby pictures or first day of school shots highlighted on my blog or littering my Twitter feed. I don’t even have an Instagram account because I’d have nothing to post there since the only pictures I take are of my kids. And here on Babble I opt not to share slideshows of my baby’s cutest moments. My kids’ faces are kept among friends and family, not the whole web-surfing world.
Part of the reason for that is safety. I don’t know who’s out there looking for cute baby pictures. I’m sure the majority are just normal people looking for some chubby cheeks and a toothless grin to brighten their day. But what if some weirdo took a shine to those chubby cheeks and started commandeering the pictures for a personal collection? What if, through the magic of a right click and some Photoshop know-how, someone changed my baby’s pictures, made them into something dark or dirty and distributed them? What if they sold the image and it wound up on another blog, or a billboard, or a child porn site?
Or what if they came looking for the real thing?
In a sense leaving your baby’s picture out for anyone to see is leaving your baby in the hands of strangers. There’s no telling what someone could do with that image. Just as I wouldn’t leave my kids with just anyone in physical space, I won’t leave their images with just anyone in virtual space.
The other reason I keep photos offline is out of respect for them. Someday, my kids will be old enough to look at my sites and see what I wrote and posted. Moreover, so will their friends or the local bully. I wouldn’t want them to be teased for a photo like the one of me on that Christmas ornament so I won’t put photos out where someone could see them. Kids are capable of doing horrible things to each other online and damned if I’ll be the mom who loads the weapon some bitchy 13 year old uses against my child in the future.
I take other safety measure related to my kids online, too. I don’t use their names, I don’t cite the name of our town, I don’t post pictures of our house. I own the domain names for their names so no one else can buy them. I keep my personal Facebook page, the only place I do use their names and images, hidden from Google and my photos are only visible by friends. My friends list is only people I know and trust not to harm my kids.
These choices, and the reasons behind them are just my preferences. I know millions of people post adorable baby photos every day and the sky doesn’t fall. But I’d rather be safe than sorry when it comes to kids and social media.
Photo credit: photo stock
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