“Why don’t you share photos of your children?”
It’s the question I hear the most these days and people, both with children and without, seem to have really strong feelings on the subject. I usually hear those opinions the most when I haven’t actually answered the question or even asked someone what they do or their thoughts.
Being asked intrusive questions (“When is the next one coming along?” or “How will you afford another?”) and receiving uninvited comments (“Your bump is REALLY big/too small and your face isn’t as big this time round”) seem to be part and parcel of being a mama. Thankfully they don’t really bother me too much.
Why I don’t share photos of my children
So before I delve into why I personally don’t share all my photos of my little boy online, let me start by saying that it’s my choice and my personal preference. That doesn’t mean that I disagree with people who do choose to share their photos or that I think I’m in any way a better parent (yep, I’ve seen comments like that thrown about).
I actually see both sides of the spectrum, particularly as things are so different to when I grew up. There wasn’t any Facebook or Twitter. People generally snapped a few pics and stuck them in an album to show their loved ones and I guess as a keepsake to show their little ones once they’d grown up. And I spose this is where part of my decision stems from.
It’s their decision
Embarrassing childhood photos, or at least what I deem embarrassing, have been scanned in and uploaded to social media without my permission. They’ve been shared with people who I haven’t met. You see I’m quite picky about who I accept on my Facebook friends list. Yes, I may share a lot of stuff on my blog, but I’m actually quite a private person. Yet, a lot of other people seem to accept every FB friend request and have no clue as to how their security settings are set-up, i.e. if photos are limited to friends, friends of friends or even *shudders* anyone.
It’s not as simple as asking said person to remove the photo or even just crop my baby face out because shockingly they’ve defiantly said no and accused me of being in the wrong. Luckily it hasn’t happened again (well at least to my knowledge) but I hate the whole situation.
I occasionally share a photo of my now eighteen-month old from the back or a little hand. I don’t think it’s particularly personal, but I feel the few photos that I do share capture a really happy moment and I guess show that he exists. However, in years to come if Nova asked me to remove any of the photos because they were embarrassing him (or whatever other reason) then I would. It’s his decision.
I remember reading that story about the girl who sued her parents because they shared embarrassing photos and I can totally see more cases like that coming forward as the years pass and Facebook does become people’s childhoods.
Sharing isn’t caring
I don’t want my blog to look like he doesn’t exist when in actual fact he is a huge part of my world. I don’t really share too many photos of my husband or friends on my blog either, but of course it doesn’t mean that they’re not important. I choose to share a select part of my life on the internet, but it doesn’t mean that they have to too.
I believe there are other ways to share a rounded image of your world without having to document people’s faces. Sure, my personal album of Nova grinning a toothy smile at the camera and nervously wobbling over to me, arms open wide, are more special, but they’re my special memories and keepsakes to treasure.
The other reason I don’t share photos of my boy is that I don’t know who is looking at them. I see the people who matter in my life (and in Nova’s). If they want to see him then we’ll set up a visit or a private video call. It’s as simple as that.
When I was pregnant (the first time round) people didn’t believe me that I wouldn’t share photos of his face. Oh you’ll change your mind once he’s here. I bet you’ll turn into a baby bore tagging everything #babyspam. In the same way that they told me I wouldn’t ever travel again with children, they told me that I was naive. I guess I know me better than they do.
I’m also aware that blog cloning seems to be on the up, with people finding their whole blog (including precious photos) being replicated or that their photos have been used as profile pics on other, let’s say unfortunate, sites. It makes me feel uneasy about a photo of me being used, let alone of my baba.
The future is..?
I will say though, I’m not naive to the fact that in the upcoming years I’m sure Nova and his sister-to-be will want their own Facebook/Insta accounts – or whatever the in thing is because no doubt it won’t be cool to have the same social media channels as your old parents, eh?!
And yes, they’ll probably have to set a profile pic which no doubt they will want to be in a similar style to their friends, i.e. showing their beautiful faces. In actual fact I bet by the time they’re on social media photos will be so outdated and everything will be about video.
I’m ok with that though. You have to move with the times and it comes down to the point I made earlier, it’s their personal choice. Jay and I can guide and educate as much as possible about the dangers of the internet, but we’re not there to provide gloom over everything. There are so many perks and good things about the net and I want them to enjoy those parts.
So if they’re going to have photos and videos of themselves on the net in however many years then why does it matter whether I share pics? Well it’s their choice. Things can change and who knows maybe they won’t share things. Plus, just because they might share a photo of when they’re eight years old does it really mean that they also want a naked baby photo online? It’s their decision.
So are there any downsides to not sharing photos of my children online?
Well as a blogger it’s really hard to get natural shots without them in the frame or looking at the camera. Just like I don’t want to be one of those parents who constantly has a camera in their child’s face, I don’t want to have to stage life or ask Nova to turn around just so I can get the perfect photo for my Instagram. Ever since Nova started crawling it’s been harder and harder to capture shots where he’s not on the move, looking up at me through the lens. I’m ok with that though. Every now and then I get a good one that I can use on my blog and the others? Well, they make my bulging personal albums of course.
I’ve read so many comments from parent bloggers saying their child is now asking them to stop taking photos of them and to let them just play with whatever product is being reviewed (or supposed to being reviewed) without being snapped. It makes me feel so sad.
I remember when I was eight or nine years old, video cameras were the latest accessible gadget for parents. That bloody thing was shoved in my face at every opportunity, including Christmas when I was surprised with a fluorescent pink bike. Before you start thinking that’s cute and just a way to document a special moment, all that video was used for was ridicule. Every time it was put on they laughed about how the colour of my shocked and embarrassed face (embarrassed at being treated to such a special present and caught off guard) matched the colour of the bike. Wow, great way to build a kid’s confidence. I still think this is where my ability to go red at the slightest thing started.
Let me emphasise that this is just my personal experience and my viewpoint. I’m not trying to slate anyone who acts differently to me, but those kinds of things shape you as a person. When I was growing up I had an ever-growing list of things that I’d promise I’d never do to/with my children (if I had them) – at some points things bothered me so much I didn’t think I wanted them. I realise it sounds like I had an awful childhood and in a lot of ways I think I did, but there was also lots of laughter and happy times in there too.
I think people simply do their best and make decisions based on what they think is right. I hope if Nova or his sister-to-be read this in the future it helps them understand.
Perhaps not sharing the faces of my children on my blog negatively impacts it, particularly as I’m a family travel blogger. Maybe brands prefer to work with blogs that show those priceless expressions and natural shots. Who knows, but quite frankly it doesn’t make me want to exploit my two in return for pounds. Yes, I’d love more money in the bank (who wouldn’t?), but I’m not about to change my beliefs for that reason.
This has turned out to be a super long post and a mini-rant, but I guess when a subject and more importantly, a person, matters so much to you the passion is evident. So in answer to why I don’t share photos of my children online, it’s because I don’t want to.
What’s your view?
See What Other People Think
Digital reputation – advice from Office of the Children’s eSafety Commissioner
Why I don’t talk about my kids online – blog post by Wellness Mama
Are you a sharent? – advice from Think U Know
Stop bashing mums for posting photos of their children online – article by The Telegraph
Does sharing photos of your children on Facebook put them at risk? – article by The Guardian
Do parents invade children’s privacy when they post photos online? – article by NPR
Could children one day sue parents for sharing photos? – article by The Guardian
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