The question should really read, do we have a right to publish online, whether on Facebook, Instagram or any other social media outlet, photographs of our children? Our children, afterall, have not given us, their parents, any consent to publicly display photographs of them during their childhood years. Children are one of the most vulnerable groups on the internet, we all know that. We are all aware of the risks that are posed with online imagery. Why do we instinctly reach for that publish button and hit it without considering any future ramifications? Why has it become second nature for parents to weekly, even daily, post photos of their children?
Firstly, when my daughter was born, I was not a blogger. I was, however, still a proud mum, who wanted the world to know how in love I was (and am) with my baby. I had a Facebook account, much like everyone else in the world (expect B who is insanely averse to Facebook and always has been – my facebook status says married but I’ve never been able to link it to him – woe is me). I would, as every proud mother, every so often, post a photograph of my beautiful, growing baby girl. Every so often, I would also have a major panic of “what if” and delete those photos. I would cull my friends list, one time I almost obliterated it. What if our personal family photograpsh fell into the wrong hands? What if someone abused the photographs of my baby? Trust is an open ended issue on the internet… there is none. And of course, Facebook and every other social media outlet change their privacy settings without the full understanding of their users. My facebook page is still relatively sparse as I rarely use it however I am now a blogger.
When you start writing a parenting blog one of the first questions you ask yourself is whether you are going to use photographs of your family. It’s an ethical question I never thought I’d ask myself and I posed the question to B also. Originally, I thought older photos might be ok, photos with A’s face obscured. The more I blogged, the harder it got.
I started with Twitter for my blog, added Facebook and now Over Heaven’s Hill is on Instagram. All accounts are open and public. All accounts feature photographs of A which may or may not appear on the blog.
Am I right including personal photographs of A without her knowledge and without her consent? There are, after all, children bringing their parents to court over publicly published childhood photographs.
I asked permission from my niece and nephew if I could publish photographs of them on the Curiosity Box Review post. They were more excited about the Curiosity Box that the idea of their images being used on my blog was a minor thing. However, a couple of months ago, I remember my sister posting a photograph of our kids together to facebook and her daughter protesting saying she didn’t want her picture on social media. It stuck with me. My niece is eight years old. She understands the concept of how far a reach one photograph may get. How many people, strangers at that, will see that photograph. So why do parents often forget how far and wide a single photograph can go?
The fact of the matter is:
We have no right to post photographs of our children online. So why do we do it anyway?
We do not know who is seeing and potentially using our photographs. Why do we not educate ourselves on our privacy settings?
We have a responsibilty to protect our children. Why do we believe that this does not pertain to online images?
What does the future hold for the mountain of online photographs we post of ourselves and our children?
I don’t have an answer to any of these questions. I’m also not looking for answers. It is simply an aspect of blogging that I’m not 100% comfortable with and probably won’t ever be. I have already broken a few of my own personal rules when it comes to blogging and I’ve debated going back and fixing my personal errors. There are aspects of blogging I’m not happy with, however, I feel that if I’m to continue being an honest writer, these aspects have to be addressed in manners I may not be wholly ok with. There are a lot of bloggers and parents who are perfectly fine posting images of their children, sharing information and details that should remain private. There are far too many parents, in my opinion, who invariably post inappropriate images which I wholeheartedly disagree with i.e. children in the bath or naked.
Where do we draw the line? What is the correct balance? What does the future hold for personal information and photographs that are held on the internet?
Proper education is essential for parents on privacy settings and the future cost of posting photographs of our children. How will a database of images and text affect them as they head towards adulthood?
This article from The Guardian in 2014 is inherently indepth, outlining the risks and the reasonings to not post photographs of our children online. An honest article, it shows that we are almost incapable of not having a digital footprint but how we may, possibly, have some sort of control over it.
I imagine that for as long as I’m a blogger, and more importantly a mum, I will forever have a love hate relationship with how I am portraying my child and my family online. It will forever be something that is at the back of my mind as I bring my random ramblings of motherhood to you, my readers. I feel I need to be conscious of the online world for my daughters future.