If you’ve been following me on Instagram or have read any of my previous posts, you may have noticed that I don’t post full-face photos of my girls or refer to them by their real names online (publicly; I have separate accounts that are private). This was a conscious decision my husband and I made when I started this blog. Before I go into my reasoning as to why, though, please know that my intent is to not make anyone feel bad if their views and choices differ from mine. The great thing about America is we get to make these kinds of decisions for our families every day. Not sharing pics of my kids’ faces is actually really hard, especially when I see so many other cute little ones out there!
We live in a scary time. Perhaps the world was always scary, but the Internet’s access to endless information has magnified the issue. Nevertheless, it’s terrifying. I never want my girls to be out in public and have some stranger recognize their faces from the Internet and call them by name. With everything we share on social media these days, it would be very easy for a creep, pedophile, and/or human trafficker to strike up a conversation with my daughters and convince them with little effort that they’re not a stranger. Granted, I never plan to be far enough away from my children for that to happen and they will learn all about “stranger danger,” but still. This, by the way, is the same reason I won’t send my children to school with their names on their clothes or backpacks and why I won’t allow Lady A’s school to post photos of her on their website or Facebook page; I don’t want strangers knowing my kids’ names, faces, and where to find them during school hours.
My girls aren’t old enough to decide whether or not they want their faces plastered on the Internet. In fact, they won’t be old enough to decide that for a very long time. I often think about them as teenagers and adults; will they be embarrassed by the photos I shared of them as babies and young kids? Will they be bullied or made fun of because of me? After all, once something is out there, it’s out there. Sure, there are millions of photos of millions of kids online and mine will probably get lost in the masses but what if they don’t? Will my girls think I totally violated their privacy by publicly sharing their childhood memories? And, if so, how would I justify it? The world may be totally different by then but I choose to err on the side of caution. Just in case. I need my babies to trust me in all areas and never want to do anything to violate that trust. As their mom, though, I reserve the right to share what I want, but I try to keep their feelings in mind when I do.
3. I Know Too Much
This probably falls in line with the first point but, did I mention we live in a scary time? I have a few friends who work for the FBI and, in addition, one of my very best friends is a criminal defense attorney. All have independently told me from their own personal experiences that the majority of the photos that are discovered during kiddie-porn cases are seemingly innocuous shots that were stolen from Facebook and Instagram. The photos that we proudly share with our “friends” sometimes end up in the darkest and most abhorrent places of the Internet. If I share those photos with strangers, the odds of them ending up in the wrong hands increase exponentially. Also, since my profile is public, I really have no idea who is looking at my photos. Sure, I can block seemingly suspicious people who follow me (which I do daily, by the way) but what about the ones who aren’t following me but decide to stop by my page? All I can do is make sure that what I share is limited.
The Internet is big and there’s billions of people out there. It’s impossible to control who is viewing, saving, and sharing your publicly shared content. For example, one of my blog posts was picked up by a couple websites in Ireland that were owned by the same parent company. Normally, this would be super exciting – except, it happened without my knowledge. The way I found out was that I noticed traffic coming to my blog from the other sites. In the feature, many of my Instagram photos were embedded throughout the page. I didn’t like it one bit and was immediately reminded of why I have chosen to not show their full faces. Thankfully, once I figured out how to contact the website, they took the photos down and apologized. I may not always be so lucky in the future. I have also heard of countless situations where people’s photos have been used to make fake accounts; it’s called Cyber Kidnapping. Think “Catfish” with [your] kids.
All that said, while I do post public pics of my kids from time to time, I think a lot about which ones I choose. I’ll sometimes post a side/profile shot (or one that is far away) but only if I don’t think anyone who doesn’t know them can really tell what they look like. If their faces are more visible than I’d like, I either don’t post it or I put a watermark over their eyes. I know I can’t protect my daughters from creepers checking them out in public places, but I can certainly make it more difficult online.
I know some of you are wondering why I even post photos of them at all, given my reasoning above. Well, I ask myself that a lot. However, my kids are my life; there’s no way I could possibly blog about my experiences as a mom without sharing a little bit about them.
What do you do to keep your kids safe online?