By Tasha Schlake Festel and Regina Martine
A recent Babble.com
article lists 10 types of photos that you should never post of
your children. What are your guidelines for posting photos of your own
Tasha Schlake Festel
I post pictures of my kids online all the time. It's only been recently that it occurred to me that this might not be a good thing. Let me tell you about the fantastical world in which I live:
1) My kids are never embarrassed.
2) My children do not have any right to privacy.
3) There are no pedophiles or other creeps.
4) My photos (and words) are interpreted exactly as I intend them.
5) Nothing bad will ever happen as a result of my innocent posts.
Sadly, this is not the world In which any of us live, me included. I know we all know this, but sometimes a little reminder (to me) is helpful.
I must remind myself that...
My kids do get embarrassed. And I never know when that's going to happen. Sometimes I expect it, but often, their embarrassment blindsides me. It seems as though their rules on what is and is not OK to share change daily. I can't keep up.
My kids deserve to expect a certain amount of privacy to be idiot kids, and grow up, and make mistakes, and have tantrums, and dress poorly, and take baths, and cry, and sleep... all in the privacy of their own lives. They have a right to expect that if someone else didn't see it happen real time, they won't see it online later, unless they are stupid enough to post those things on their own when they're older.
There are creeps out there. Not a lot, mind you, but they're real. And I don't want my kids to be their victims, or the object of their desires. A picture of my kids in the bathtub might be innocent and downright adorable to me. To someone else, it could be much different.
I'm the only one who really knows what I mean. Words - and photos - can be easily misinterpreted. No one else is in my head when I say or do or post things. No one else knows my motivation, or that I truly mean things in the most positive or funny way possible. I am not mean-spirited. I don't say or do things to embarrass. I'm actually quite nice. Really.
I've learned the hard way that the thing I least expect will come back and bite me. Rarely is it the inflammatory statement that I've made - and believe me, I make more than my share of those. It's always the off-handed remark or innocent picture that gets me in trouble. My kids get mad at me sometimes when they hear from one of my friends about something they did. I get the look that says, "Mom, I can't believe you posted that!" Oops! Yes, yes I did. Sorry.
So, thank you, Miss Laurie, for making me think about the photos - and words - I post about my kids. I will continue to share some of our funny conversations, cute pictures, and interesting experiences. I will just try to remind myself that things on the Internet live on forever.
And that my children will choose my nursing home one day.
I post lots of pictures of my kids on Facebook. I don’t worry that I am compromising their privacy, their safety, or their future job prospects. I have posted several of the “forbidden” photos including pics of them sleeping, behaving badly, and covered in bathtub bubbles. My kids know all of those pictures are there, and although they may roll their eyes a little they know there are very similar pictures of their friends online and they always love to see them. There is a kind of anonymity in numbers — there are so many pictures of so many kids that there is no reason any one kid might feel singled out. My kids don’t find this embarrassing, and I certainly wouldn’t go out of my way to embarrass them. However, the Internet is very public and very permanent, so although I post a lot of pictures, I don’t post anything I wouldn’t want people to see. Duh. It’s pretty simple, really.
I check my security settings pretty often, and I am reasonably sure that what I have put on Facebook, stays on Facebook. I don’t know if that is true for other, more public platforms like Twitter and Instagram — mostly because I don’t use them much — but as long as I’m not posting photos that are embarrassing, revealing, or incriminating, what’s the harm, really? Also, social media is by far the easiest way to share pictures with people who actually do want to see them. But what if I’m not the one sharing the pictures?
One night, not long ago, I did something I’m sure you have all done at one time or another, even if you won’t admit it. I googled myself. What I found was a little surprising. I found lots of online stuff about me that I already knew about; things like my Etsy shop and my profile on LinkedIn. I also found pictures of me and my kids that I had included with articles here on the Wakefield Patch. One picture in particular came up several times — a really cute picture of my two daughters sleeping on top of their babysitter. This photo ran with an article we wrote about two years ago about how to choose a good babysitter. At the time, I asked my now school-aged daughters if it was all right with them and I contacted the former babysitter to make sure she didn’t mind if it was included with the article. It’s a great picture and I was happy to post it, but I was surprised to find that my photo was used with articles about babysitting on Patch and by other bloggers all over the country.
As I was writing this, I again googled my name and found no pictures of me or my kids. Then I googled my fellow PatchMama, Tasha, and found several pictures of me and my children. Interesting. I really don’t know how much of our digital footprint we can control. Once photos are on the Internet, they are out there forever, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. I am careful about what I post, and I trust that others will do the same, so I really don’t worry that it will come back to haunt me or my kids. When my kids start posting their own pictures, that’s when I’ll worry.
Does your family have any specific policies when it comes to posting photos of the kids? Feel free to comment below!