WHY WE DO NOT POST PHOTOS OF OUR KIDS ONLINE



In a world where thousands of children go missing on a daily basis leaving no trace or even hope to be ever again found, I think that a few logical and instinctive measures are to be taken.

You may be thinking that not posting pictures of our kids online is an extreme measure to prevent certain situations from happening. You may even believe that having your child's face exposed in the World Wide Web is actually a good way to prevent kidnapping, among other issues. I'm no one to tell you that you're wrong or that everyone should do what I do. But if by the end of this post you're able to look at things from a different perspective and understand our point of view as parents, at least part of my job is done.

When our first kid was born, David and I asked everyone - from friends, family to school, not to publish pictures of our baby online. In case we wanted to, we would do that ourselves, which looking back may not have been enough of an excuse for people to understand the importance of our decision. Of course, that being the proud friends and family members that everyone is when a new baby is born, most people (aside from school due to legal reasons) completely disregarded our request and went ahead posting online pictures of our kid nonetheless.

Even though a part of me is understanding towards this action, it doesn't stop it from being a complete disrespectful behavior towards us as parents. It also took me a while to clearly understand this point of view from other parents before I was holding my first baby, because in the end "who cares?" and "it is just another baby picture", right? However, there's something I feel like a lot of people often forget, and that is that the Internet is actually quite a huge thing.

So, what is the Internet?

As the name itself states is the World Wide Web - A web of information shared across the world - meaning anyone that can access a device with Internet connection - meaning the majority of the human beings cohabiting this planet. From people who use the internet with the sole purpose of sharing knowledge, getting in touch with other people with the same interests and innocently entertain themselves, to people who have severe mental issues, to cannibals, human traffic, pedophiles, etc. I'm sure you know what the dark web is. If you don't, I really encourage you to do a brief search on it. Trust me, just a few minutes will be enough to make you feel sick.

We, as regular people, can only access a very short percentage of what the internet really is. And even though the internet is mainly composed of data, everything you put out there is permanent. No matter how many times you delete a post, picture, account, personal details, once you put it out, there is no turning back. A bit scary, hm? Though it doesn't have to be if we all use some commonsense.

We may build some illusion of security as we start reading the first sentence under "Security Policies". However, in reality things are way deeper than that. To begin with, we are all to blame when it comes to the action of fast scrolling down to quickly press the "I Agree" button most times we install or update an app/website. I'm sure we've all also had the "magic coincidence" of having a private conversation about something or some product and have it appear in ads or suggested videos later that day. Don't you think that this is just a small representation of how much of our privacy we are giving away in a silver plate, sometimes without even noticing it?
You just have to spend a little bit of time reading carefully the terms and conditions of most apps/websites to realize the massive data crossing that exists. Said data crossing supposedly exists with the only purpose of applying marketing and advertisement strategies that most fit our personal interests. However, it doesn't stop it from making all of our personal data very much vulnerable.

A very important factor that we all should keep in mind is that the internet is a free tool (which is great!) being on the other hand paid by the lack of regulations.

If you have ever encountered a troll on internet, and trust me you probably did even if you didn't realize it at the time, you may know that these people do actually take pleasure in the act of sitting on their ass on the other side of the screen commenting shit just to make you react or feel down. If there are people in the world with nothing better to do with their time, think about the amount of people that are looking at children's photos and videos with second intentions.
Every so often new cases of identity theft are popping up and even websites where people will play-role using the photos of families who share content online such as on youtube, instagram, etc. An innocent hashtag such as #mommylove under a cute picture of our baby boy is an example of a keyword searched by a very questionable demographic and that only makes it easier for people with dark intentions to find the content they're looking for. These intentions are something you cannot control once you put your child's face (or any other content) out there.
I'm really sorry to say, but the fact that you're posting a picture of your kid with a smiley face covering her/his face is simply ridiculous. I'm sorry if this offends you and if somehow what I'm about to say may even shock you a little but pedophiles and other demented people as such do not actually care at all about your kid's face. I know, this disgusts me too, but it's a well-known fact and it is something we all should keep in mind when we are so innocently sharing the image of our child online.

I too shared one or two pictures holding with my first baby in the past. Until a family member found one of those pictures being shared in a platform that wasn't the one I had used. No permission from my side was given, but still the simple act of placing that picture online was permission enough for someone that I never even met to screen-grab said picture and post it as if it was their own on a complete different platform to be accessed by anyone. This was my turning point. The day that I realized how much control I was giving up over anything I shared online.

After all, we as parents and family members are the ones in charge of our kid's decisions up until when they're mature enough to do it for themselves. However, I honestly believe that sharing every fart, poop, bath, new dance, laugh and so on from our kid is probably a little too intrusive. If we as adults mind having  these private moments being shared by someone else, what gives us the right to do it to someone who cannot speak up?

Ultimately, it is as simple as this, if you wouldn't like your parents to print your family album photos and fix them all around the city, what makes you think your kid won't mind having his image shared with the entire world?

Just these alone should be, in my humble opinion, reasons enough to understand our point of view when it comes to this subject. However, up to this day I still receive comments like "I'm only sharing it with my friends on Facebook", "It's only one picture" or "Who cares? Your kid is not a prodigy. It's just another baby in the sea of babies". And if those are indeed the questions then why the heck do you want to share it in the first place? Not everyone may admit this, but everyone knows that no other kid will ever be as cute or interesting as our own. And sure, I love seeing pictures of my friends' kids too, but hey that can be done in private as well like in the good old days, you know? When everyone would gather flipping through the family albums while eating cookies and drinking tea.

Some things should be kept private

From a social point of view, I can begin to understand why some families may feel the urge to share pictures and photos of their kids from the moment they're born. In the end, this phenomenon of publicly sharing all our feelings, daily-life activities and so on is still pretty new and very much influential since it gives us the feeling of belonging. But then again, if we take into consideration the fact that this will actually be the first generation having their lives and images exposed to the world wide web, I find it reason enough to question if it should be done so liberally.

We have no clue what the future consequences of these actions may be yet, but we all know a hand full of people who started their career as children and later on have come forward stating how much they resented having their face exposed to the public so early on or how much it still impacts on their day-to-day lives, even though they're not producing any public content for ages.

When you're publicly sharing something, you are opening a very valuable door called the judgment door. You are giving permission for anyone who has access to whatever it is that you're sharing to judge you from your appearance to the way you live your life, etc.. And that is totally OK when you're aware of it. However, a children (heck, not even an adolescent and some adults) does not have the ability to truly comprehend this concept and the consequences it may bring along. So having a kid agree to share his/her image online is completely irrelevant since their capability of rationalizing this as adults is simply non-existent.

Touching on something more personal, it is not the first time that I have family members being approached on the street by someone with anything but good intentions, claiming to be friends of the family or this and that and actually providing names and true facts. So far we've been lucky enough to figure things out before it escalates, however, having one simple fact right may be enough for anyone to engage in a conversation and provide far more information than you should leading to bigger problems. If we are usually careful about what we say in public and keeping things like our address private, why can't we use that same worry when it comes to sharing our child's identity with the entire world?

As you probably figured out by now, I grew up when the Internet wasn't even accessible to everyone, let alone social media. A time where people's privacy was a lot more valued and respected. I want my kids to actually have the same opportunity of choosing when and how to appear in the online world. Up until then, we as parents have not only the right but the responsibility to keep our kids protected from what they can't protect themselves and I truly believe that everyone should respect that.





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