Should I post photos of my child online?

My concerns about whether or not I should post photos of my child online and the rule that I follow to make sure she doesn’t hate me when she grows up.

“Is it ok if my cousin puts Little Beast Mode’s photo with Forrest on Reddit?” my wife asked from the other room. Reflexively I answered, “Yeah, sure.”

Within hours of posting the photo, it collected thousands of likes and hundreds of comments on the front page of Reddit. Our friends gleefully informed us of our daughter’s new found internet fame. The seal was broken. Little Beast Mode had exploded onto the scene.

I ‘ve posted photos of my daughter before, but only on my Facebook and private Instagram account. I’ve kept those photos to a small number of friends and family, yet when asked to put a photo of her on Reddit, I didn’t hesitate to approve1.

This event made me realize that I wasn’t just ambivalent about whether or not I should post photos of my child online – I was uninformed. I realized needed to put some thought into what I do or don’t do.

There are parents who don’t post any of photos of their child online at all. I get it. There are pitfalls and consequences to posting any photo online. The internet isn’t always a family-friendly place. Where I struggle (and where I think my ambivalence comes from) is my desire to be genuine and open online while preserving my family’s security and privacy.

We live in the digital age and social media is part of that. As a blogger, I notice that the posts featuring my daughter get more exposure and more “likes.” People want to be close. They want to make a connection. That’s part of being a parenting blogger. Readers want to see that you’re a parent. They don’t want you to hide behind hashtags and quirky images. People want you to be genuine and more importantly – relatable.

The amount of information that I put online about my daughter is another concern. Where she is at a given time, her birthday, her favourite food, the street of her first home can all be extracted from social media if we’re not careful. This is information that I unknowingly surrender when I post photos of her on her birthday, playing at the park or eating at the dinner table.

Security and privacy are worth considering, but so is consent.  I may think this is harmless now, but what will my daughter think when she grows up? She has no opinion in what I post about her. She may not appreciate that blog post about her dirty diapers when she’s a grown woman 2. Employers today already use social media to screen applicants. Many people have lost jobs or been screened out of jobs because of what they find with a simple Google search. Social media hasn’t been around very long. Twitter is only 10 years old and Instagram is even younger. Can you imagine if your digital footprint went as far back as your birth?

Despite these concerns, I’ve posted more photos of my daughter online recently and I plan on sharing more of our adventures together. I’ve reconciled my feelings by making sure that I follow one rule:

I will not post anything about her that I wouldn’t post about me.

This doesn’t apply to just embarrassing content. This includes her personal information like her date of birth. I will also abstain from geo-tagging her location.

Does this address all of my concerns about whether or not I should post post photos of my child online? No, but I feel better that I’ve put thought into my decision. Afterall, this is my daughter – her future and feelings are worth a few hours of internal dialogue.

  1. Full disclosure: I’m not familiar with Reddit, and I honestly didn’t realize the photo would be that popular.
  2. Actually, I know she won’t appreciate it. I can already tell that she’s going to be strong willed.

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