Confession: I’m a bad parent. My child is 7 months old and there are no pictures of his face on social media. Surely I am to be crucified for this sin. The nails will be driven by people who don’t know me that well and likely don’t understand social media that well.
I’m not worried. No one died or has to die to save me from this absolute non sin. #getoverit
Waiting to share a picture on my child on social media neither makes him akin to Blanket Jackson nor me a”wanna be Kardashian” holding out for People mag to holla at me with a financial offer for pics of my small man. Don’t worry, my child’s face is not covered when we go out and he’s not coming to a window near you any time soon.
There is no requirement, rule written somewhere, Biblical Law, Koran phrase or Hindu Vedas indicating that a parent must, at risk of persecution, share photos of their child online. Trust me. Google and Alexa aint going to find you that law/ regulation.
Possibly other parents are like I am: surprised and irritated by side comments made by uber extended family and not so close friends and downright surprised by the number of non family and non inner circle folks who feel entitled to see a picture of my little one via Facebook (aka Macobook in sweet T&T). Likely however, you don’t have a parenting blog like I do. To some, that means “ah look for dat” and being a blogger makes oversharing images of my offspring = sharing my weight loss or birth story. Insert Jeopardy time up noise here.
Sound in my decision (as I hope all other parents who hold back on sharing images are), I did some research and found this heartening passage from a post by Afromum that basically reflects the exact conundrum I face:
“When I was starting this blog last year, I had to seriously think through this topic on privacy online and discuss it with my husband. One of the not-so-easy decisions we had to make was to make every effort not to over-share images of our kids on social media or online. This decision sometimes haunts me when I’m writing very personal posts and as is norm with most mummy bloggers, most share images of their kids. Sometimes I feel like am being a fraud, here dishing advice and sharing personal experiences on parenting yet failing to show ‘proof’ of being a mother.” – Afromum, Dec 29, 2015
I’m no fraud. Got the mommy scars to prove it. But I don’t want to scar my child.
Growing up I remember seeing parents whip out old baby pics and watching friends and family cringe when the inevitable naked baby pic or worse, potty pic was shared with suitors, in laws or worse, grandchildren. Those images though still stayed in the inner circle. Social media pics grow legs quick fast. The way my social media is set up at the moment, hommies pics will make it to Japan and back in microseconds (what’s up Japan peeps!)
My husband’s naked baby pic sits with sepia coloured pride right here in our family office (interpret as his office that I gangsta from time to time). That pic, combined with his ridic-level passion for tech and digital media of all sorts, inspired his decision to be lil selfish with images of our small man. That and the fact that so much of my life anyway has been exposed to the public for over a decade due to my taking a spin on that Miss Universe stage 12 years ago. He’s helped create a little bubble and we like knowing that our closest friends and fam will see little man, just not YET on Facebook.
So is it safe to share pics of your child on social media? It depends.
Do I think my friends that share same from minute #1 of their baby’s life are committing a mortal sin? Absolutely not.
In the sage words of Lauren Apfel, parent of four and founder of Motherwell magazine:
“Sharing photos of your children online can be a rewarding experience and a way to connect with other parents. But you must be prepared to be responsible about what you post.” – WSJ.com, May 23 2016
Sharing is Caring: The Case for Open Sharing of Pictures of your Child on Social Media
- Isolation Prevention: I agree with Apfel’s notion that social media is potentially great way to build community online. With all the modern conveniences of today, parenting, especially in the early and teenager stages I understand can be extremely isolating at times. Sharing pictures is a great way to get the conversation started and open yourself for the warmth and appreciation of your online friends. Advice, along with offers to help (OMG yes, TOTALLY please come babysit) can make the “ping” of a private message truly welcome – especially after a morning filled with poo and vomit. A comment on a pic reminding you how blessed and luck you are can also be a inspirational and a much needed pick me up.
- Milestone documentation: This is my fave reason for online sharing. The dated documentation and open sharing of lifetime milestones are truly special. I argue that this is good for parents, children and extended family as it brings all together for moments of joy. In fact, I extend this belief to beyond the child stage also. Wedding pictures, anniversary celebrations, first day at new job all, in my mind, are excellent to share on social media. My happiest days online are the first day of school pics, exam results days and child birthday pics. Those pictures always make me smile and I’m hopeful that with time, my husband and I will agree to share the warmth of same via social media pictures of our little one.
- Family Affair: Find me a Caribbean person without family sprawled across the globe and I’ll show you the marks where their unicorn horn fell off. Sharing pictures of your child via social media brings the family together. Surely great auntie who loves you but won’t soon travel from San Fran to Port of Spain to get an upclose look at junior/ juni-ette before he/she turns 5 – social media keeps auntie in the loop – at the same time others in the family are seeing the pic. It’s easy to post a pic and tag her, along with your 200 odd cuzzies and make the whole family happy. I get that. I’ve missed enough births, birthdays and graduations to understand the importance of social media in connecting a family. In this way a pic on Facebook for some can = a satiated family which, I understand, is critical to survival in the West Indian world in particular.
Risk may be greater than reward: The case against sharing photos of your child online
- Geotag me this: Most of today’s social media photos are taken and shared with mobile phones. This quick and easy way of sharing often comes with location information stored in the metadata of your image. This information can be mined, shared and set you up for a visit from a pedophile near you. The risk is there but not very likely for most of us, but hey…that ish was scary right? Take a look at the location settings to ensure you don’t fall prey to this risk.
- Concrete Footprints: Ever walked through wet concrete? Just like those prints stay
there nearly forever, the same can be said for the images of your child. While Gen X and Y (to a lesser extent) had the option of building a social media profile of their own, IG and Facebook can start to build profiles of your child long before they can even type their name on a keyboard based on facial recognition in the images you share on Facebook. I personally find this particularly scary. Hey, even the name of your child can change. Blanket Jackson so hated his that he changed his in 2015 due to being bullied. If a kid can change their name because their parents set them up for bullying, imagine how much your child may want to remove from the internet when they grow up and see their every moment out there!
- Going Viral: Who hasn’t seen photos of something/ someone online clearly not meant for a global audience? We love to share. Others love to steal. Afromum: Have you ever read the Facebook terms and conditions or those of other social media sites? Well, hidden somewhere in the long winding document is a clause that states that, you give up consent, copyrights and ownership of any media you share on the platform. What this means is that, sites like FB can use the images you have put on their platform in anyway they deem fit and are not obligated to seek your consent first.
- Catfishing: Your child’s image can end up being used for some one else’s online identity. This happens to adults also – right here in sweet T&T.
- Not everyone that nudges you is your friend: I have over 1,000 Facebook friends. There were 172 people at our wedding. The math does not add up. This means that indeed, not everyone that digitally limes with me is my close friend or relative. So just like not every single detail of my life is on social media (I do share a fair bit though – I’ll be the first to say that), some things will need to stay private. For now, one of those things is the photos of our little one. That may change. Other things have for me about social media. I mean, in my 2012 article for the Newsday entitled watch what you say on Facebook, I indicated 78% of users trust peer reviews more than advertising. I think at this point I would say just about everyone trusts online user reviews more than ads. A lot can happen in four years. Hell, I’ve seen a lot happen in the first 7 months of small man’s life.
There are options like changing my Facebook settings for example so only those closest to me in real life can see photos or sharing “snaps” or memories of small man via Snapchat but hear nah…ah tired. I like my bubble for now. See him when you see me.
All in all, the decision to share or not share photos of your child online is a personal choice. Just like choosing to do an epidural or go natural is a personal choice (for most of us anyway), I hope we can respect those that choose to share or not share.
Oh and if People magazine is reading, we have like, college to pay for so…#holla