As soon as you find out you’re pregnant, there are a whole range of big decisions you’ll be making on behalf of your unborn baby.
While deciding what to call your child is commonly considered the biggest, there’s a far more significant choice that many parents make with a fraction of the consideration. That is, whether or not they will post photos of their child on social media.
In fact, many parents probably don’t give it much thought, and before you know it they’ve posted an ultrasound photo of their bub in utero.
Regardless of how much you consider whether or not you’ll share photos of your child on social media, it’s still a choice.
And every choice has consequences, positive and negative.
I’m not here to make a case for or against posting photos and information about your children online (in fact, I occasionally share certain photos of my son online as part of my family-oriented digital brand). But I think the concept does require some careful consideration before you hit the post button and share that black and white womb pic with the world.
As we’ve seen recently, an 18-year-old girl in Austria sued her parents for posting ‘shaming’ and ’embarrassing’ photos of her online without her consent.
While many parents simply post about innocent milestones and happy memories, some parents thoughtlessly (and at times maliciously) shame their children. In 2015, Madonna came under fire for posting a photo of her 14-year-old son backflipping in his underwear with the caption: “Rocco’s preferred profile #nosausage”. After a huge backlash from her friends and the public, Madonna deleted the post.
The pros and cons of sharing photos of children on social media sites have been circulating the internet for some time now, with many parents, like Amy Webb, taking a stand against posting any photos of their children at all – no mean feat!
Then we have parents like Heather Whitten, who shared an image of her husband cradling her naked, feverish daughter in the shower in late 2014. Heather found the hard way that despite her intentions to praise her “husband’s moving display of compassion”, the internet erupted in anger and disgust with many people describing the image as a “breach of privacy” and “too intimate to share”. Facebook removed the image twice, labelling it as inappropriate. Heather has since learned she unwittingly broke the child-protection laws in her state of Arizona.
So what are the options for how much and how little to share of your kids online?
Within the bounds of the law, this really comes down to each parent’s personal preference, but should always be a joint agreement between the parents.
You can start by reviewing the privacy settings on all your social media accounts
You can create subsections of your friend list and just share baby photos with them. For example, Facebook lets you use an audience selector to share content with a specific and pre-created custom friend list.
You can create a private Instagram account for your child
I really like the way Instagram allows me to share the small, everyday moments I spend with my son (not necessarily worthy of the highlights reel) but still important to me. I also don’t want to clog up my friend’s feeds by posting too many baby pics, so I have created a private Instagram account for my son, and only my husband and I follow it.
You can choose to only share photos of your kids from the back or a profile view, so their faces aren’t shown
This sounds hard to achieve for every shot, but you can still capture a variety of lovely moments this way. Here’s an example of an Instagram account by an Aussie mum that does this well.
You can choose to only share wide-angle photos of your child
Images such as a family photo in front of a view, where both you and the view are in the shot, are less invasive. Avoiding close-ups of their face will mean you prevent Facebook’s facial recognition algorithm from scanning their features and recognising them.
Or you could go one step further and reserve a digital identity for your child before they are even born
Amy Webb recommends the following approach she and her husband took. When Amy was pregnant, they researched domain and keyword searches for their top name choices, to ensure there weren’t negative associations or websites with inappropriate content with that name. Amy and her husband then created what they dubbed a ‘digital trust fund’ for their daughter, securing a bunch of social media profiles and domain names. They didn’t post on any of the accounts, though. Instead, they saved a master password to give to their daughter when she was old enough to decide what and when to share.
How much do you share about your children online? What privacy measures have you put in place? Are there any that we’ve missed?