If you post something on the internet, you have to be ready for anyone to see it. I don’t care what your privacy settings are, if someone really wants to view your profile, your photos, your information, they will find it. The only way to do this is to live in a black hole of technology. Even then, another person could post a photo of you, your children, etc to their profile.
I read an article a few months ago about a couple who has never posted a photo of their child on social media. Never. And they have demanded that family and friends follow the same rules. In my opinion, that’s a little extreme. Their reasoning: they want their child to be able to make their own presence known in a way that they want in the future, not how their parents see fit. I also read a story about a teenager who is suing her parents for now going back and posting embarrassing photos of her when she was young. Again, a little extreme, but I also understand her thinking.
While I understand the parents who don’t want to share any photos of their child, I also feel like they are missing out on a lot of modern parenting. Many families don’t all live close to each other, so being able to share photos with other family and friends who are in a different town, state, or country is a great part about social media. We live in Texas, my family is all in Florida, so sharing photos on Facebook is a way they get to see my boys and what they are up to. I am also part of an amazing mommas group on Facebook. I haven’t met any of these women (except one), but I would consider them some of my good friends. We are always sharing photos and stories of our “June babies” with each other.
The parents who don’t share photos, usually have good reasons for it, I will agree to that. Most of the time, parents are worried for their child’s safety, and there are steps to take to try to prevent the photos from becoming “dangerous”. Others say they want to let their child create their own social presence once they are old enough.
On the other end of the spectrum are those who seem to overshare. I’m talking about those who can’t do anything without posting a photo of it. I like to post photos when we do something, but I don’t post about our entire lives. Seriously, I don’t post photos eating breakfast, playing with cars, watching a tv show, eating lunch, nap time, bath time, dinner, bedtime…. We get it. And it’s not only the oversharing of constant photos, but there’s also oversharing when it comes to the types of photos. I love a good bathtub photo, but that doesn’t belong online. Yes, I have taken photos of my boys sitting on the potty reading a book, it’s just too cute, but I never shared them on social media. I wouldn’t want a photo of me like that, so why share one of them?
I have a few rules for myself when it comes to sharing photos on social media:
- If I wouldn’t want this photo of myself shared, I don’t share it of my children, or anyone else for that matter
- No embarrassing, crying, tantrum-throwing, etc. photos
- Turn off location settings in the camera settings (see below)
- Don’t post photos that show our exact address, what school they go to, etc.
- Don’t post photos with other children unless getting permission from their parents
Have you ever looked at your privacy settings on your phone? I have had an iPhone for many many years now, so don’t know much about the other phones. But on the iPhone, if you go to settings –> privacy –> location services –> camera, make sure it is set to never. When this is on, it stores metadata with your photo of the exact location that the photo was taken. Someone who knows how to view this information can easily get gps coordinates and map of where the photo was taken. As soon as I learned about this, I immediately turned it off on my phone and my husband’s phone. I try not to be paranoid, but I also try to be smart about what we post online.
Privacy Settings on Social Media
Another place to check your privacy settings is on your social media accounts. My Facebook is set that anything I post is shared only with friends and friends of anyone I tag. My personal Instagram is set that I have to approve people to be able to follow me. I know this isn’t perfect, if someone really wants to they can get around it. Again, I try not to live paranoid, but safety conscious. It’s the best I can do without completely unplugging from the internet, which just isn’t going to happen.
Put Children in Control
As parents, we want to make sure our children understand some things are meant to be private and to be in control of our bodies. What’s the difference between posting photos without their permission? Tyler is getting to the age now, that I will probably start showing him the photos and asking him if I can post them online. I will explain to him, the best I can to a 3.5-year-old, what it means and who sees them. Ryan is still too young, so I will use my best judgment for photos with him in them.
Just like with anything we do, there are risks. In my opinion, the biggest risks include someone being able to find your child through your photos, and photos being re-shared on child pornography sites. It’s sick to think about, but it happens more than we probably know. This is the main reason, besides future embarrassment for my children, that I refuse to post any photo of them in the tub, or in only a diaper or underwear.
To Post or Not to Post
While I was researching this subject, I came across an article (here) that quotes a mom saying the following when it comes to posting a photo:
“Who does this serve? If it’s anyone other than the kid, no go,” she explained via Facebook Messenger. “Is this something people would enjoy hearing or seeing? If the answer is no, no go. Is this something I would love to see pop up as a Facebook memory on a bad day? If not, no go.”
The last question is the reason she did not share photos when her daughter was hospitalized.
“She looked adorable in the oversized hospital gown, which she was wearing because she was vulnerable, and I feel like posting that takes advantage of that vulnerability to gain attention for us, her parents,” Koy says. “Her being in the hospital shouldn’t be about us, it should be about her and what she needs in that moment.”
One final thing you can do to try to protect the photos that you post online is add a watermark. There are many apps out there, paid and free, that you can use to add a watermark to your photos that you take on your phone.