Why I don’t post kid faces on Social Media
I belong to a growing segment of the population for whom sharing pictures via social has become a daily ritual. Enjoying a night out with friends? Post on Instagram. Have a potato chip that looks like Elvis? Post it on Facebook.
Facebook is undeniably the world’s top choice for photo sharing. A staggering 350 million photos are uploaded every day. So it’s no surprise that’s where many of my friends regularly post pictures and videos of their kids.
And while my social photo albums grow in size each day, they don’t include any pictures or videos of my kids’ faces. My issue isn’t so much with Facebook’s publicized private image security breaches of the past. This has everything to do with privacy, and protecting our children in ways our own parents never had to.
Here are three questions to consider before posting pictures of your kids’ faces on social media.
1. Am I comfortable with someone I don’t know using my pictures?
I don’t know about you, but if someone – or some business – wants to use any of my pictures – and especially ones of my kids for marketing or advertising purposes, I’d like them to ask my permission. I’ve looked through the privacy and account settings several times, and I still haven’t found any way to opt out of this. If you have found a way, please let me know and I’ll update this post with the info.
2. How much do I want to control the privacy of my pictures?
A friend of mine suggests it’s wildly unlikely that a public company like Facebook would ever do anything inappropriate with pictures of my 6-year old’s birthday party. I agree. What’s much more likely is that someone I don’t know will end up seeing them – or worse abusing them – for nefarious purposes. If it can happen to Mark Zuckerberg, it may happen to an average user like me too.
Before you say “that could never happen to me”, two quick scenarios. The first is a classic one from a few years ago about a family from Missouri who found out their picture was being used on a billboard ad – in the Czech Republic. The mom had shared the picture on her blog and various social media profiles, and it got scooped up by a local shop owner when he used Google to find images.
The second scenario is more chilling. There are numerous accounts of nefarious illegal and downright evil people stealing kids’ photos from Facebook to use in extortion schemes and child exploitation rings. That thought alone is enough to give me the heebie jeebies.
For now, I’ll continue using Flickr for private photo sharing. Their privacy and sharing tools remain best-in-class.
3. Will my kids grow to understand (and appreciate) what privacy means when they’re older?
Imagine this: I post (what I feel) is a hilarious picture of a friend to Facebook in an embarrassing situation. Say, sitting on a the toilet. Passed out. I share it only with a few people. Let’s now imagine the consequences. In the short term, some chuckles, a lot of embarrassment for my friend, a possible black eye for me, and the eventual removal of said picture. When that kind of thing happens, adults have recourse. They ask you to delete it, or untag their name, if they’re more care-free.
Now swap the word friend with child.
Parents put their kids in this situation every day. They share pictures via social media that – despite their best intentions – kids may not appreciate in 5, 10 even or 20 years. The difference is that in this situation, kids have no voice. Their future self has no say if they don’t want a picture of their sulking face posted for all to see.
My advice to parents who shares pictures of their kids online:
- At minimum, make sure you regularly review your privacy settings on platforms like Facebook, so you are aware of exactly who is able to see your pictures.
- Make good choices about the kinds of pictures you share. Don’t share everything- just share the best shots, that show them the respect they deserve.
- Start asking your kids if they want their picture shared. The answer might surprise you.
- Think twice before sharing a picture that – if the tables were turned – you wouldn’t want shared yourself.
At some point, we’ll all have to hand over the reigns to their personal brand. They’ll be responsible for how people perceive them online. While it’s crazy to think in those terms, if we don’t start now, it will be too late when they’re older. My hope is that we all equip our children with the right tools and knowledge to responsibly manage it.
Will you think twice about posting pictures of your kids (or someone else’s) on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram? I’d like to know – please leave a comment below.