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Posting pictures of our children online is one of the great joys of being a parent.
We all want everyone we know to ooh and ahh over our smart, cute, clever, precocious, creative, and wonderful kids.
But is it safe to post pictures online, or is that something to avoid?
Should I Post Pictures of My Kids Online?
You can post pictures of your children online for friends and family to see as long as you are careful. The best method for posting pictures online is to use an account that is only viewable to those who have permission. You should also prohibit sharing of photos on any public posts.
The Psychology of Sharing Pictures Online
Social media has been around for more than two decades. Many new parents don’t remember a time before social media.
Sharing pictures of their kids online may seem as natural as taking them to the park.
The big question you might be asking yourself is why? Why do we want people to see our pictures online?
The psychological answer is that sharing photos online gives us a sense of identity. As a parent, your sense of identity may be enmeshed with your children.
Letting others see your kids lets them know who you are.
There can be other reasons as well. Sharing on social media is said to lift our self-esteem. This is primarily because we are showcasing the best of ourselves.
Few parents share the everyday trials and tribulations of raising their children. Instead, they focus on the joys and the achievements.
From the first steps to winning awards, we want people to see how great our children are because, by extension, we are showcasing how great we are as parents.
You may have read that and thought, “That’s not me. I’m not bragging. I just love my kids.” I thought the same thing as I was writing those words.
If I’m being honest, however, I have to admit that my Facebook feed has photos of my daughter winning dance awards, my son being featured on the local news, photos of our recent trip to Europe, and a humble brag or two about my kids’ report cards.
What do you not see on my Instagram? My son’s frustrated sneer as I explain to him why he shouldn’t be trying to date four girls at the same time.
You won’t see a Tik Tok of the literal mold in my daughter’s closet because her version of “cleaning” involves piling wet towels in a dark corner and seeing what happens.
You will never find a Facebook story that details my kids fighting with each other. As far as social media knows, these things don’t happen.
Is this because I want people to think my kids are perfect?
There is another reason to post pictures of only the brightest moments on social media that is much more wholesome.
A Better Reason to Share Pictures Online
I post on social media because I want to remember the good times.
I don’t post pictures of my kids throwing tantrums for the same reasons I don’t post pictures of bowel movements. I have no interest in remembering those things.
I want to highlight the good times because I also know those are the moments my friends and family members want to see.
My mother, who lives too far away to see her grandkids often, wants to look at these pictures and smile.
She doesn’t want to grimace, feel second-hand embarrassment, or turn away in disgust.
This is also true of other family members. Aunts, uncles, and cousins are happy to be able to see the goings-on in the lives of my kids.
If they can’t be with us every day, they can at least feel as though they are when they see the milestones shared through social media. I don’t worry that I may be misrepresenting my children.
All of my relatives either have children or have been children themselves. They know there are ups and downs. They also know that no one is interested in the downs.
Another reason I share these photos is so I can see them again later. Every day, I receive an alert with memories of what happened on this day in previous years.
I love seeing my kids’ smiling faces at their various ages over the years. To me, this is reason enough to share photos on social media.
The Dark Side of Sharing Kids’ Pictures Online
There are a couple of reasons you may not want to share your children’s photos online.
They are both disturbing, which means they must be considered before you start those online photo albums.
The first is the most serious. I am going to issue a trigger warning before I begin.
If you may experience any type of distress from reading about abuse, please skip to the next paragraph.
This content should be upsetting to anyone but could be damaging to those who have suffered from abuse in the past.
A big reason to avoid posting photos of your children in social media is because of online predators. They will and do steal photos of children.
These photos are then shared in online forums where predators gather. They often look for photos of children who are in baths or swimsuits, especially those under the age of 16.
However, any image can be manipulated to make it appear as though a child has been or is going to be abused.
Make no mistake, your child’s image could be used in one of these forums.
Not only is that a horrible issue, but it can also be very difficult to track down these forums and remove them once they’ve been discovered.
A second reason to avoid posting pictures of your children online is for their own anonymity.
Kids may not want their photos being shared for posterity. Later in life, they may find that they wish they had not been put on display in this manner.
Common Sense Advice When Posting Your Kid’s Pictures Online
The good news is that both of these issues can be mostly avoided. By following some common sense guidelines:
1. Only use one social media account for photos.
The average internet user in the United States has seven social media accounts.
Do not spread photos of your children across, Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok, Twitter, Tik Tok, YouTube, and Tumblr.
Instead, pick one of your social media accounts to use for sharing images. This allows you to easily keep track of where the images are and who is seeing them.
2. Make your account private.
Set privacy controls on your account so that only those who you choose can see your images.
3. Purge your friends and followers.
It is time-consuming, but it is worthwhile to do an inventory of all friends and followers on your social media. Remove those with whom you don’t have a personal relationship.
4. Choose the photos you share with caution.
Certain types of photos attract the worst type of attention. Avoid sharing photos of your children in bathtubs or in any state of undress.
If you want to share those photos only with those who are closest to you, share them via messaging rather than in a space with a wider audience.
5. Share your concerns with others.
Be vocal about your worries regarding pictures of your children. Ask all friends and family to not share any photos that you post to your private pages.
In the end, it is up to you to decide if you want to share your kids’ pictures online.
Luckily, as long as you use a social media platform that can be made private, you have few reasons to worry.
Do you agree or disagree? Tell us in the comments!