If a stranger on the street walked up to you and asked to see a picture of your kid, would you say yes? I doubt it. And yet, every day, mothers everywhere are posting photos of their children on social media for anyone and everyone to see, save, or share.
Last month, supermodel and new mom Gigi Hadid posted an open letter asking paparazzi and fans to please respect her baby daughter Khai’s privacy and not to post photos of her face online. Gigi wrote, “Our wish is that she can choose how to share herself with the world when she comes of age, and that she can live as normal of a childhood as possible, without worrying about a public image that she has not chosen.”
Gigi’s not alone in wanting her child to have a normal, unpublicized childhood. Other celebrity couples like Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds, John Krasinski and Emily Blunt, and Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis are also very private and don’t share pictures of their children on social media.
Ashton Kutcher explained why their family has a #NoKidsPolicy: “We don't share any photos of our kids publicly because we feel that being public is a personal choice...My wife and I have chosen a career where we're in the public light, but my kids have not, so I think they have the right to choose that...It's their private life, it's not mine to give away...Your social profile is yours to create, not for someone else to create for you."
Being public is a personal choice.
Why Are You Really Posting That Picture of Your Kid?
Gigi’s request really got me thinking about this issue, and not just for kids of celebrities. The children of Instagram influencers frequently show up on their feeds. Ever heard the saying “a baby is good for business”? It definitely applies here, because everyone loves cute babies, but it feels more like a momfluencer exploiting her children for likes, followers, and blue checkmarks. Many influencers make a living by oversharing, and unfortunately, their children are often included in that.
Even normal mothers post tons of pictures of their children on social media. Their intent is to share with family and friends, yet they’re creating an intimate, detailed, in-depth digital footprint without their child’s consent or even knowledge. Can you imagine being a new college graduate in 15-20 years and realizing that your potential employers can go on Instagram or Facebook and scroll back through to your baby photos, looking at snapshots of your entire life on the way? This would be especially easy if your parents created a hashtag or an account just for you from birth (and yes, normal parents do this too, not just public figures).
Many influencers make a living by oversharing and their children are often included in that.
It especially irritates me when moms post birthday tributes, like “Sarah is one year old today! She loves her teddy bear and eating peaches. Mommy and Daddy are so proud of you, beautiful baby girl! We love you!” Let’s be real. That post is not for your daughter. She’s not going to be seeing it anytime soon. It’s for you and to get likes. If you want to celebrate your daughter, then do it straightforwardly without posing, and then go give that love you want to gush about online to your daughter in real life.
I’m not saying don’t take pictures of your child. Take all the pictures you want! Documenting growing up and family events are super important, and we adults love to look back on pictures of us from when we were little and remember all the fun adventures we had as children. Just do your kids a favor and print them out and put them in a photo album instead of posting them on Instagram. Because that way will your kids will actually see those pictures and they can participate in enjoying them and talking about the memories.
Pedophiles Use Social Media Too
Another major issue with posting photos of your kids on social media is that pedophiles can find them, save them, share them, and edit them. In fact, one Australian study reported that about 50% of images shared on pedophile sites were taken from social media sites. Pedophiles will even go so far as to photoshop the head of one child onto the naked body of another child.
Pedophiles can find photos on social media, save them, share them, and edit them
Even seemingly safe and innocent pictures – like kids in Halloween costumes, ballet tutus, bathing suits, and babies in diapers – will attract pedophiles.
Houston police Sgt. Luis Menendez-Sierra, who handles online child sex crimes, said, "Especially any tub or shower pictures or them in bikinis. To you, it might be innocent. To this pedophile, it’s like a prize. It’s like, 'This is amazing. Someone just gave me this for free.'"
Find Better Ways To Share
If you really want to share photos of your kids on social media, find more prudent, protected ways to do it. For starters, make sure your social media accounts are set to private and that you only accept friend or follow requests from people you know and trust in real life. You can also use the close friends only feature on Instagram or make a private group on Facebook and limit photo sharing to there. Better yet, just send pictures via text directly to family and friends.
I’m a foster mom, and we’re not allowed to post photos of our foster baby’s face online out of respect for his and his birth family’s privacy and to protect his identity, just like what Gigi Hadid wants for her daughter. But don’t all children deserve that kind of privacy and protection?
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