Should parents post pictures of kids online?

In an age where everything is online and therefore searchable and find-able forever, it is extremely important to consider whether parents should post pictures of their kids online. It is equally important to educate our children (as they get older) about keeping their own online presence in check.

A simple scan of Facebook or of the daily news will show you some good examples of what not to do when it comes to posting pictures of children.

To begin with, pictures that show children in any form of undress should be considered carefully before posting. I recall an incident when my children were babies and my wife posted a “cute” picture of us bathing them on her Facebook page as well as emailing the pictures to select family and friends. To our surprise, we received numerous requests not to send any picture that showed the kids in states of undress. While the pictures were cute, and in our minds they were “safe” many people informed us that they had strict workplace policies regarding viewing anything that could be considered inappropriate on their workplace computer. So, in effect our “cute” pictures actually could have jeopardized friends’ and family members’ jobs had they opened them or viewed them at work.

This leads to the other end of this discussion, when we post the “cute” picture of our kids bum or our kid in the bath, we have no idea where it ends up or what SICKO may find it and use it for illicit reasons. While this is not a thought I personally like to think about, it is a reality in today’s world. There are people out there that will take that very “cute” picture and turn it into something that other than cute.

In general, I ask myself: Is this something that could be turned into a subjective piece in the wrong hands and/or is this something that would embarrass my kids either now or in their future? If the answer to these two is NO, then it is probably safe to post. However, I truly try to limit the amount of posts that show my kids.

As for teaching kids the importance of their own online presence…this is more difficult. Mainly because kids at the age of having social media profiles are also at the age where their listening skills seem to be lacking the most — especially when it is their parents talking. However, this is a major concern. Again, one look at the news and it is obvious the importance of this message. Kids are being bullied and shamed online every day. Some of this is due to things at school, but more often than not, it is the picture they thought was “private” that gets shared with the school.

Along with the thought of a child being shamed and bullied, one has to worry about college admissions, future employment, and possibly dating. All of which can be negatively affected by just one wrong post or picture in their profile. While there are not any easy answers to how to protect and warn kids about this, the task is real and extremely important. I do not know if we as parents should monitor their online profiles…or what the answer is besides to know we must protect our children from all the ills that may come to them if they are not safe online.