I publish photographs of my child online. On Facebook, on Instagram, on my blog. I occasionally write about her too. And I am fine with it. I really have no problem with it. I've heard contrary opinions too. Children can't give their consent to having an online presence, we don't know what will happen to the photographs, what if in the future the pictures and information shared by their parents will be used against them (by employers or companies I presume)...
This topic has raised some recent discussion - see here for Guardian article on the safety of posting children's pictures online. They ask "... is it safe, or even ethical to publish something about someone who can’t give their consent? " A blogger perspective comes from Ma Che Davvero who suggests it is an abuse of their privacy.
I have to say I disagree, and here are the reasons...
1. Parents make ethical decisions about the upbringing of their children, all the time, everyday. Sharing photographs and having an online presence for your children is just one of multitude of ethical decisions you take as a parent. Choosing a religion for your child (christian, hindu, buddhist, whatever floats your boat), choosing their diet (vegetarian or factory-farmed meat), sleep train them or not, spank them or not...
There are several ethical choices every parent makes in their everyday lives, and posting photographs of them online are no different. Of the examples I've outlined I see posting pictures online as the most minor infraction on the children's self-determination... Choosing your kids religion for them sounds like by far the greatest ethical dilemma in my books as it can affect their whole perspective on life!
2. I think my child will be happy about her online presence. Have you ever had a look at your own baby books - those little achievement books your parents were supposed to fill? They are lovely to look through, and I only wish my parents had been a bit more active with noting down my first achievements. I think my baby will be happy that there is so much information of her readily available, for her to peruse, and pictures of her development through the days and the months and the years of childhood. And should something happen to my computer or the picture books of her, many of them are saved on internet, be that Facebook, Instagram or my blog.
3. The internets is not a scary place... I feel the "real" world and internet are increasingly intertwined and internet is just as "real" as the IRL-world. I am the same person online as I am in real life. And I think this interconnection between internet and the real world is going to become stronger in the future. As such, our children will probably find it strange that we have ever pondered about things such as anonymity on internet, or whether we should post pictures of ourselves on internet. They will probably think of trying to hide your online presence as something akin to putting a bag over your head every time you walk out of the door.
4. There are lots of pictures of kids online... And no-one pays too much attention to them. Everytime I see a picture of someone else's kid online I look at it, think, oh there's a kid, and by the time anything has registered in my brain I have already scrolled past it and forgotten about it. I would suggest most people are like me. Most people aren't sinister. They are just scrolling through the endless content on internet. And as for the sinister people... Well. I would be far more worried about them in real life, in the park, in the swimming pools, in your schools, in your homes... But you can't live your life in fear, otherwise you would stay indoors, back home all the time.
|About 11 months old|
While you can take pictures of your kid without showing their faces, making it unclear what they look like (I sometimes see this in blogs), aren't the pictures that show their little smiles and expressions, and personalities just so much better? Purely in terms of photography, I think showing the face adds to the imagery and atmosphere of the photography. Anyway, many of the photos I publish online are there to bring joy to her grandparents and other family members that don't get to see her that often, and it would be terribly boring if they ever only saw her toes, or the back of her head.
I think the real questions is not about to share or not to share, but about what to share. I share pictures I find beautiful, and stories I find endearing. I would never post something I think would embarrass my child.
What do you think - is it OK to publish photographs of your child online? Can they have an online presence? Why / why not?
(Linking with Brilliant blog posts at Honest Mum)