Thursday, August 30, 2012

Children, Photos, and the Internet; Oh my!

The internet is like a big room filled with people shouting. Some can feel a sense of security in the noise and reveal more information than they would otherwise in a face to face environment.  Others can feel overwhelmed in this giant room of people and crank their privacy settings to 11.

Some days, I'm comforted by the noise as I peruse through news, photos, and gossip. On other days I want to shout my own opinions and share photos of my beautiful daughter and hot husband. But on days like today, I hesitate. I don't mind being open about my experiences. I don't mind sharing my personal photographs. But would Joanna mind?

The biggest fear circling child safety on the internet is often about pedophiles coming to abduct our children. Stephen Balkam, CEO of the Family Online Safety Institute, told the New York Times that, "Research shows that there is virtually no risk of pedophiles coming to get kids because they found them online." [New York Times] Reading this brought a huge sigh of relief.

Then I kept reading. "The real danger is that a photo is appropriated and mistreated." A lightbulb went off: that makes total sense. The act of saving a photo to one's computer takes mere seconds. The act of creating a social profile using said photo takes minutes.

Again, my mind jumps to "what about the pedophiles?" Thankfully, Professor Finkelhor addresses my fears: "The possibility always exists that pedophiles are lifting such pictures, but it is not something [I have] encountered... it’s unlikely for a disconcerting reason: actual child pornography is so readily available that pedophiles aren’t likely to waste time cruising social networks looking for less explicit material."

First of all, it is incredibly sad that child pornography is available at the click of a button. It makes me want to adopt all of the kids that are being sexually exploited. It also makes me want to castrate those that are exploiting them. My heart breaks for those girls (and boys) that are lied to and abused for the sake of money and perversion.

Professor Finkelhor's comments about pedophiles reshaped my hesitation in displaying my child's photos. Although I doubt anyone would believe that a 10 month old has their own Facebook profile, it brings a new perspective for parents to consider before posting pictures without privacy settings. And the concern doesn't just apply to bloggers. Whenever I enter my child into a Cutest Kid contest, I could be giving that company permission to use my image at their discretion. Whenever I share a meme on my Facebook page featuring a kid I've never seen before, I'm furthering the use of a photo that the parents may not know is floating around. Whenever I upload my images to a website, I could be allowing that company to use my photo in their advertising. Although this may excite some stage mothers, I won't get modeling gigs from that image. I won't even get credit for the photo because I checked that little box before hitting 'submit'.


So what's a mommy blogger to do? I'm not going to stop taking photos of my daughter. I'm not going to stop uploading her ridiculous faces. However, I may take more photos that focus on her hands or cankles (not a typo). I may also greatly limit posting photos after her first birthday. Or maybe I'll put a paper bag over her head (with air holes of course.) She'll be running at that point anyway so I doubt I'll even have time to find the camera.

What do you think? Do you post photos of your children in a public forum? Do you have your privacy settings tailored to your taste?

5 comments:

  1. Justin gets on me all the time for posting photos of the kids online, unfortunately this is the only way that some of our family can watch them grow up. I try no to think about the people that are using the G rated pics online, but the ones that are secretly snapping them as my daughter hangs upside down on the monkey bars in a skirt.

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  2. I just started my blog a few weeks ago and was debating whether to post pictures of my son. I don't feel too comfortable with it so I probably won't. I only post pictures for my family and friends on my private Facebook profile .

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  3. I totally agree - this blog started so I could keep my family and friends updated about us and Joanna while we live away from them. Now that it's grown, my perspective and audience are changing.

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  4. I face these concerns every day. Do I post pictures of my children? Do I let them ride their bikes to school? Do I let them go to the neighborhood park without me? Do I let them play with friends when I don't know the parents well? The answer I've come up with is this: the risk of creating children and parents who live trapped in fear is a risk I don't want to take. I'd rather post the picture, send the kids to the park, encourage them to make new friends, and buckle their bicycle helmets before sending them off to school. I accept calculated risks because I don't want my children to be afraid of the world. I still ask questions, check up on them, and keep my facebook private because I want me risks to be wise and not foolish.

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  5. I was thinking about this... but from another side. You know how when we were kids (or teens or whatever) our moms would pull out the old baby photo albums to show people baby pictures and it would embarrass us? Well, this is a whole other age of that for our kids. Every burp, hiccup, fart, terrible poop, etc, is cataloged on fb (or elsewhere) for our kids to later read. It's a lot of information -- tons more than we ever experienced.

    To that end I'm actually trying to avoid SUPER embarrassing postings for my daughter's sake. It's one thing to post some cute stuff... but I think sometimes we go overboard (at least those are my personal feelings). ;)

    Anyway... Good post. Definitely some really helpful food for thought!

    -EmilyG

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