Posted on August 14, 2019
Parents are proud of their children, and it is natural to want to share special moments from their lives with friends and family on social media. But a growing chorus of experts warns that sharing too much of our children's private lives can really hurt.
What you decide to post on social media is a personal decision … but it should be an informed decision. Here are five things you should consider before posting photos of your baby during bath time ̵
Privacy and consent
Remember that children have the right to privacy – and that social media is simply not the same as an analog photo album. Very young children are unable to say yes to "famous Instagram", so think twice before sharing every moment of childhood with the world.
Tip : Consider limiting the type and amount of photos you post, and only share them with close friends or family. If you have a large number of friends or followers, setting up private, "family only" groups or even alternative accounts where photos can be shared with just a few people may be worthwhile.
The Lessons We Learn
Large technology companies have more than outstanding track record when it comes to respecting users' privacy … and the authorities are not much better. Most of us see the problem with this. But if we ignore our children's lives on social media, we help normalize the idea that privacy is not expected. Before posting, consider the message you are sending – and the lessons you want to teach your little citizen.
Tip : As your kids get older, start engaging them in a dialogue about what photos they want you to share – and which they want to keep private. Allow them to make age-appropriate decisions to reinforce the message that they should expect privacy and control over their data.
Privacy settings are harsh
The privacy settings on the major social media platforms are famously opaque, making it difficult to know exactly who is able to search for and view your content. Add to that the fact that many of us have friend lists for thousands, and it's hard to say for sure who can see the photos we post online.
Tip : Review the privacy settings of your social media accounts before posting photos of your little ones, and consider performing common "privacy audits" by reviewing these settings to make sure nothing has changed. You may want to post family photos on just one or two social networks, whose settings you are familiar with.
The Internet Never Forget
Once something has been online, it can be surprisingly difficult to get rid of – as anyone who has ever Google himself knows! Facebook and other social media services allow you to delete images, but they can keep copies on their servers for some time, and cached material may still appear in the search engines months later. And those are just the things you actually remember to delete!
Tip : Avoid completely personal or potentially embarrassing content. If you are not sure where to draw the line, try to imagine your child's high school classmates or potential employers finding the picture. If you want a little, that's a pretty good indication that you may not want to share that particular image.
Bullies, Creepers and Trolls – oh my!
As the children get older, your embarrassing baby pictures may come back to haunt them if school bullies or a troll halfway around the world catch them. It is also the truly disturbing phenomenon that strangers download images of minors and then use them to create fake social media accounts for "their" children. The potential for bad actors to abuse digital images of our children is a compelling reason to pay close attention to who can find the things we post.
Tip : Make every effort to ensure that photos of your children are only visible to family members and close friends. Use available privacy settings whenever possible to ensure that your images are not indexed by search engines. Consider putting Instagram accounts with photos of your kids in private. And avoid using photo or geographic tags that can help strangers or classmates search for your child by name or place.
If you want to post pictures of your kids on social media, that's fine. Understanding the issues you're playing and following a handful of wealth guidelines can help protect your children from being embarrassed (or worse). Choose what you want to post very carefully. Be careful about handing out. And use the tools available to protect your children's privacy now and for years to come.