Should Parents Post Naked Baby Pictures Online?

There was a post on the Today Moms blog this week about baby booties. Specifically, about posting pictures of baby booties online. This topic arose when blogger Kelle Hampton put a picture of her 3-year-old naked in the bathtub up on her Instagram feed. I didn’t see the picture, but apparently it was revealing enough to cause an outcry that led the mom to remove the photo.

And I nodded my head in solidarity with everyone who suggested that a naked photo of a child doesn’t belong on the internet.

What Carolyn Savage, the author of the Today Moms post, brought up is the point that the cute naked baby on the internet today will someday be an adolescent who might be abjectly humiliated by having a naked picture of them in public space. A young adult struggling with body changes and sexuality will feel very differently about a naked photo of themselves than the mom of a roly-poly infant will feel about the same photo. It’s a different perspective and one worth considering before hitting “share” on a picture.

I’m in a weird minority of the parenting blogger community who doesn’t put pictures of my kids on any of my public feeds. They’re not here on Babble, not on my blog, not on Twitter, and not on my blog’s Facebook page. I do it for a lot of reasons, but the privacy of my children is probably the biggest one. I can’t predict the future and I can’t possibly know how they’ll feel about the photos I post today. I feel I’m being respectful of their future selves by limiting who can see the pictures I snap of them now, particularly the bathtub variety.

The other reason I keep photos of my kids off the internet – and I recently did a sweep wherein I took them off even my private, personal Facebook page – is how easy it is to copy a photo from a social media site. I do it all the time. When someone posts a funny e-card or interesting info-graphic on Facebook, I simply hold my thumb on the picture, tap a dialog box and voila! The picture is saved to my phone. Then to my Photostream. Then to my laptop. In two clicks, I have taken ownership of the image and archived it in three places as well as sharing it on whatever social media I see fit.

I would HATE IT if someone did that to a picture of my children. I would be homicidal if it was a picture of my kids naked.

The internet is a brave new world for parents to navigate. It’s amazing in its power to bring families closer together. Far away relatives can get real-time updates about little ones and that’s priceless. But there is a difference between letting people see photos of my kids and letting people HAVE them for their own. I’d be more than happy to pull¬† snapshot out of my proverbial wallet and show it to any of my Facebook friends. But would I let them walk away with it in their own wallet? No.¬† My new rule of thumb for photos is that I only share digital images with people who, in an earlier age, I would have given prints to. That means my sister, parents, and in-laws now get pictures emailed to them directly. Anyone else who wants to see my kids can look at pictures on my phone when we’re together – the wallet photo of the modern era, to be passed around then safely tucked away again.

Taking pictures of kids from birth to college graduation and beyond is a parent’s prerogative. Photos of a grinning infant in a bathtub are priceless and will always evoke a certain moment in time to a parent. But having those photos is different from sharing them far and wide. I think it’s better to keep some pictures in the family, not online.

Photo credit: photo stock

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