I think this question has an individual answer for each parent. I am often asked why I don’t post pictures online and here are some of the reasons why:
- Firstly, my child did not ask to have her picture posted online, once pictures are posted online (even if you have ‘deleted’ them) they are there forever. I especially won’t post embarrassing pictures which may be upsetting later on, I am protecting her digital identity.
- Cameras & Phones made after a certain year tag the photos with an identifier that tells you the location the photo was taken, thus putting the safety of my child at risk. Likewise, taking photos outside school, home or in a school uniform can share information which would do the same.
- Those who post pictures of their kids say that it’s quite safe and the chances of their kids being stalked by predators are statistically insignificant but if nothing else, posting family photos online can send a mixed message to our kids. From an early age we teach them not to talk to strangers and be careful not to reveal personal information, but then we ignore our own rules just because it’s Facebook.
- AND It’s not just predators, another danger is that a photo could be misappropriated or mistreated. There have been several well-documented stories of horrified parents discovering that the cute picture they took of their son or daughter was now being used in an overseas ad campaign or featured on a disreputable web site. Once we post a picture online, we effectively lose control of that picture, ceding re-publication rights to whoever comes across it. Not even mentioning the new trend of Cyberbullying.
- I am protecting my child from identity theft. “A thief could piece together what might appear to be random bits of disparate information and use it to impersonate your child—opening bank accounts, taking out loans, even committing crimes—all in the child’s name,” says Jacqueline Beauchere, a director with Microsoft’s Trustworthy Computing Group.
If you are now going post pictures of your kids online, here are some tips:
- Make sure you have edited your privacy settings to ‘friends only’ or ‘private’. If you not sure how to do this learn, ask or don’t post images online.
- Take safety precautions. At the very least, turn off the GPS tagging features on your smartphones. Don’t mention the location of the photograph. Do not post the picture as the event is occurring, especially if you are revealing the location.
- Keep private things private. Do not share extremely private details about a bad behavioural issue with your child, pictures of your daughter in a bikini or medications your child may be taking.
- Monitor your child’s own Facebook page. When your kids are old enough to have their own Facebook pages, keep a close eye on what they post. It’s never too early to teach good online habits!
- Make sure you know who your friends are. If you have hundreds of friends on Facebook, chances are you don’t know them all that well. Take a moment to review your friends list to make sure everyone still sounds familiar. Perhaps you accepted a friend request from an old high school classmate, but they appear to have grown up into an odd person. You might want to consider de-friending them.
- Stand up for yourself (and your child). If a friend or relative posts photos of your child on Facebook and you don’t want them to, ask them to take them down. After all, you don’t know how carefully they monitor their own friend list, so it’s impossible to know who is viewing the photos. The same goes for YouTube, Picasa, and other media-sharing sites.
- Use a watermark. It will make it harder for someone to misappropriate the image.
- Lower Your Resolution. Make it difficult for people to use photos of your kids for their own advertising purposes by lowering the resolution of the photos you’re posting online. This makes it harder to print and enlarge the pictures.
- Also, never post the name of your child’s birth date, school, address, email address or phone numbers online.
How do you feel about other parents posting photos that include your child without your permission? Do you ask before posting pictures that include your child’s friends, classmates, teammates?
Here is a tip (from Erika at www.consciousparents.org): If you are wondering if it’s ok to post a picture of my child on your Facebook page? Look at mine. If you don’t see any pictures of her on my own page, chances are I’d not want any on yours. If you can’t even see my Facebook page because we aren’t friends? Then you DEFINITELY should not be posting pictures of my child.
She also said the following:
‘I’ve gotten some private messages from people in my life saying, “What’s the big deal? Everyone does it – stop being so paranoid.”
They are so focused on convincing me that it is OK to put photos online, that they are missing the main point of the post.
So let me use some other examples that illustrate said point.
- When I host one of my daughter’s friends over here for a playdate, I don’t automatically assume anything. I ask the parent, “Are there any food allergies or restrictions?”
- Before giving a birthday gift, I ask the other parent “Hey, is there anything that would NOT be OK to give your child?”
- As a last minute resort (that I’ve not had to use) but have asked about, is about television on a playdate. I ask the parent, “Are you OK if they end up watching a show? Are there any restrictions on what shows are or are not OK?”
- If the children are going to see a movie in the theater, I make sure the movie is fine with the other parent.
There are many things in life, that we don’t think are a big deal – but someone else MIGHT. While we might make mistakes, and we can’t be paralyzed by the idea we can’t please everyone, we at least should think for a minute before doing something that affects another parent. And do the best we can…
The more that our children can see us as adults, being considerate of other parents and families, the more our children will learn to do the same.
Being aware that others have different values, or needs, and honoring them in a considerate manner, is a life skill that will go far beyond the immediate future.’
I am not telling you what you should or should not be doing. I respect your decision as I hope others will respect mine. I am merely sharing information and letting you make your own decision.
Share your thoughts below.