Parents are often overjoyed to have children, and they want to tell the whole world about their little bundle of joy. New parents often fill up their social media with pictures of their baby doing everything from taking a bath to taking their first steps, and as they grow older, you can often find photos of them going to school for the first time or trying new foods. While there’s nothing wrong with wanting to share your happiness, posting children’s photos on social media comes with its own set of problems that can cause a lot of trouble for your child in the coming years, and can even endanger them.
Every time you share a photograph of your child, even if you limit the audience as much as you possible can, the photograph is still mined for data. Whether you upload it to Facebook or Google, the internet will know that your child exists because there’s some very advanced facial recognition software in use by big companies. By choosing to post your child’s picture on the internet, you are making them known even when they have not consented to anything themselves.
On top of the data mining, there’s the scary idea that someone can find out where your child lives or frequents. Depending on how strong your social media settings are, more people than just your friends (or friends of friends) will be able to see the photo of your child at the pool, or their first ice cream cone at Dairy Queen. With a little detective work, someone might be able to find out what daycare centre you drop your child off at, and if they did run into them, they’d know their name and their favourite colour thanks to a post you made. Photos with any identifying information are a threat to a child’s safety, and you should always do your best to make sure nothing that could jeopardize their safety makes it to the internet. Photos with place names and locations, or photos of your children in bathing suits or in bath tubs should never make it online.
Perhaps the most obvious thing that parents forget is that children are people too. You may find the photograph of your daughter spilling grape juice on her shirt hilarious, or want to share photographs of your son swimming for the first time, but you have to remember that your kids may not want these photos up in the future. Would you want your childhood photos shared with the public? Would you even want your friends to see some of them? Probably not, but even if you do, you are able to make that decision as an adult. When you share photographs of your child online, you’re invading their privacy and taking something away from them without their consent. While I personally don’t think the odd Christmas photo or birthday picture is wrong, you can always send photos to people through messages or emails, rather than posting them online. Sharing photos may make you feel good for a few minutes, but you may be endangering your child, or otherwise hurting their future selves by sharing such personal (and sometimes embarrassing) moments of their childhood.