Should We Publicly Post Photographs of our Children Online?

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.

online photographs of children ethics

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?

online photographs of children ethics

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.

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27 Comments

  1. I am a father, and a victim of parental alienation. That means that my children, who otherwise I had a wonderful relationship with, have been separated from me and taught to hate me. My ex wife has decided that her control of our children is more important than their emotional health or psychological development, and has used emotional terrorism and the legal system as weapon (seeking court orders when they benefit her goal, and ignoring them when they don’t). Where I once had a close and healthy relationship with my children, based on love and trust, now they are afraid of me and despise me.

    The only way I have to fight back against this, is by reminding them of what we used to have. I post pictures of us together online, hoping they find them and are reminded of the relationship we used to have. Hoping that they see them and come to realize that I am not a dangerous and hateful monster, but rather a loving, caring father that misses his children.

    I will never stop posting them, rights be damned. More damage has been done to my children by their malicious, vindictive mother than a few images could ever come close to doing. https://waltersingletons.wordpress.com/memories-of-my-children/

    1. You make a very good point Walter. In one way it’s the only method to connect with someone you’ve lost. Obviously in your case it’s a medium for you to show how much your missing your children. I’m sorry for the situation in your own and I’m hoping things work out for you.

  2. Im with you on this one, G! Before I ever started blogging, I scrubbed my Facebook page–which is only still active because I have a ridiculously addictive app game linked to it so I can play said game on multiple devices–because I was concerned about how my own image would be portrayed to the social networking world. And now that I have kids I post as few pictures as possible of them and try to obscure faces whenever I can. It’s so sad that we have to restrict this seemingly benign form of expression because of a few nutters with nothing better to do than ruin other people’s lives.
    TJ recently posted…The Man CardMy Profile

  3. I hardly wanted to read this because it completely freaks me out. I use the girls’ names and check with them what they are okay with me to post but I still feel uncomfortable about it. Am I putting the girls at risk? Ughhh! It makes me feel sick just thinking about it. This whole business of never truly being able to wipe the pictorial footprint we leave is another issue too! Arghh!
    Jane Taylor recently posted…How to make a cheat’s birthday cake in 10 mins for less than £10.My Profile

  4. Thank you for posting this! It’s been on my mind a lot lately as I have just started blogging. I feel like my blog will be enhanced if I use my own images as the internet doesn’t really have what I’m looking for. But I also don’t feel comfortable with using my daughters photo. It’s a tough one!! Looking forward to reading the comments on this. Hopefully we can get a good conversation going.
    Lucy recently posted…A day in my life: Taking my baby to workMy Profile

    1. Thats how I felt also, that because my blog is personal and about us as a family, photographs of us are somewhat essential. But my daughter is only three and I need to protect her as much as I can. Am I jeopardising her privacy by including photographs of her on my blog?

  5. I don’t post photos of my girls online (on my blog stuff or my personal stuff). I don’t use their real names on my blog either.

    I don’t think it’s fair of me to share personal things about them either, and at least the stuff I do share doesn’t have their faces plastered all over it. I certainly wouldn’t want somebody to blog about my entire life to the world, especially without asking.

    I also worry a lot about the photos getting into the wrong hands. Once they’re on the internet, you have no control over who is seeing them and how they’re being used. That’s frightening.

    I’m so glad I’m not the only one who wrestles with this.
    Lucy At Home recently posted…I Am A Mummy; I Am So BlessedMy Profile

    1. It’s a really hard balance when you’re a blogger isn’t it? I’m still not sure what is the right thing to do and do post up pictures of our daughter but it always bites in the back of my mind about whether or not I should be and if she’d be happy in the future about the photographs and all I’ve written.

  6. For me it’s more about the fact that they’re out there in the world and I’d have no control over them. People can save/screenshot/edit/Pinterest – do anything with them!
    I have one or two on my bLog (e.g. My profile pic) but I’ve avoided using many more. I’ve also thought about using a different name for her. Maybe I will do that. Still deciding!
    Lucy recently posted…A day in my life: Taking my baby to workMy Profile

  7. I don’t publish photos of my kids online (or usually back only) but I also don’t publish photos of myself either. My partner does on FB. I don’t even do that. You have no idea where it will all go and who will decide to do what with it. I know I’m in the minority on that – anyway, i figure there’s enough of everyone else so I can just stick with scenery…;)

  8. I generally choose not to post any. Like you, when my children were younger I used to post some on Facebook, but now I’ve stopped, and the only ones I share are of the children looking away. As a general rule, although I’ve only just started blogging, I’d like to stay away from posting photos of the children online, unless I’ve somehow ‘masked’ them, so that they’re not immediately recogniseable! Never though about the issue of children not giving us permission though – a very valid point! Thank you for sharing! #KCACOLS

  9. I only just started my blog and my daughters are 18, 15 and 11 so my situation is slightly different. They are acutely aware of their online ‘image’ and I have to ask them to approve every photo before it is published anywhere. As a result, there are very few! I am probably more concerned with what they are posting on their own accounts, to be honest, and I have to monitor them quite closely!! #KCACOLS
    Sharon Parry recently posted…The last day of summer – Rest Bay surfingMy Profile

    1. That’s very interesting that they don’t Llowes you to use a lot of their images. Is it vanity or because they are aware of the dangers of online images? Or is it embarrassment as friends might see their pictures? They probably don’t edit themselves as much:)

  10. It’s a difficult one. I do share photos of my kids and I think I live in a bit of a dream world where I’m in denial about all the bad people out there :/ Something to think about x #KCACOLS

  11. I think any online footprint is a risk to be honest. I use photos of my son and I do have a right to do so, as his mother. I also have a duty to protect him. should we even write about the ins and outs of our lives so publicly? there is always a risk. I’m not overly worrying though tbh.
    Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope you come back again next Sunday!
    Emma me and b recently posted…Visiting Father Christmas – The Good, The Bad and the Ugly…My Profile

    1. There are a few sides to the coin with this topic and Im so interested to hear how others view it. I still don’t fully know where I stand but I think that’s mostly because we don’t know where we are with social media and where and how our info is stored. We are in the digital age and when our children are old enough everything maybe different or more acceptable than it is now. So is there any reason to worry?

  12. Gosh, it’s an argument I have with myself constantly. When our little one was first born, he didn’t appear on any social media until he was about 8 weeks old (thanks Dad!). Me and my husband didn’t post a photo of him until much later and we’ve never posted one to facebook. My feelings are that I would never post an image of him in what could be considered a compromising position. I’ve also never posted his name anywhere on any social media so there’s nothing linking him to those images. At the moment he’s tiny and he features on my blog and instagram. Once he starts to get a bit older I guess he will have more say in the matter and then he can decide. Thanks for an interesting post #kcacols
    Devon Mama recently posted…The Liebster AwardMy Profile

    1. Its such a difficult topic and I’ve been struggling with it a lot lately. Bloggers need good images so I’m told and as a parent Blogger clearly those images will be of our family but where do we draw the line and how is that information and those images held on the Internet? Where are they stored and for how long? Who has control? There are a million arguments around this and I’m so interested in everyone’s opinion

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