Social Media: Sharing Pictures of Kids that Are Not Yours

For the past month, I have been reevaluating my 8-month-old daughter’s digital footprint.

Saw that some family and friends had her pictures on Facebook. No biggie, let me see them...

Most of the pictures were of her as a newborn. Sleeping in her hospital blanket, small and vulnerable. Some were when she was just a few weeks old. This time in her baby wrap, gazing at the camera. All were super cute. 

Some of Lyra's pictures were set to public. PUBLIC. That means that anybody out there could view and download a picture of my child and do whatever they want with it. I asked that those pictures either be deleted or set to private.

After my request, feelings were bruised. Questions were raised. I was told I am going to extremes. I was called overly dramatic. 

Believe me, I get it. You love your baby, niece, nephew, cousin, granddaughter, goddaughter (not being sarcastic at all). You want to share their cute faces, their milestones, and their accomplishments.

But I want you to stop and think: 

a. Do you have the right to share pictures of them without THEIR consent (when children can’t speak for themselves)? 

b. Do you have the right to share pictures of them without consent from their PARENTS? 

The short answer is: no.

It is not your child. 

I belong to an incredible group of people: MOMS club. On many occasions, I took pictures of my kid and their kids and posted on social media: without asking them. Noone said anything. I assumed it was fine. 

I once shared pictures of Lyra with two other children on Facebook. They were kids of a good friend of mine. I did not ask her permission but simply assumed that it was just fine-we are friends, no? And the kids are cousins, surely it's fine?...

I then received a text message from her asking me to either remove the pictures or to crop her kids out of them. I deleted the pictures off Facebook right away.  

Her message to me was carefully crafted. She spoke about how she, as a mother, was worried that her kids’ faces are on Facebook, and how (here’s the kicker) she was concerned that by asking me to delete those photos I will get offended. She thoroughly described how she felt and expressed her worry about her request impacting our friendship. Needless to say, our friendship was not impacted.

In fact, I admired her request so much that I started evaluating my daughter’s presence on social media as well.

Why should we, as parents, go to such lengths to request our child’s pictures be removed from social media/set to private?

Why can’t we simply ask “please remove my child’s picture off Facebook” and leave it at that? Why is it not enough? Why should we craft a careful request and support it with rationale and empirical evidence, like some academic article? Why should we worry about how others will respond to our request?

If you shared pictures of kids that are not yours and were asked to either delete them or set them to private, here is the only appropriate response:

**No problem. Ok, done!** 

There should be no questioning, judging, or arguing with a parent over this. Why? It is not your child. 

It is important to have an understanding with parents of what you can and cannot share and whether those photos can be shared publicly (think featured photos, profile, or background pictures). If you are not sure, ask--most people will be fine with it. Some will not, and that is ok. 

Some readers will think this is a post from a psychotic, overprotective mother. Trust me, I am not. I have no problem spamming you with pictures of my daughter-in private. They will not, however, be set to public for the world to see. 




Preparing for a 24 hour Digital Detox

Since my social media detox...

I have been very intentional with my social media use.

Haven't checked Pinterest or LinkedIn in approximately two weeks. Did sign on Facebook to check MOMs club updates, touch base with friends and colleagues, and share a few pictures of the baby and one achievement. Need to but cannot figure out how to perform a bulk clean up of my friends. Please help.

Deleted my Instagram account since it brought zero value to my life.

Been putting out more meaningful content less frequently thus curbing my social media habit even more.

I am now preparing for a digital detox

That means that I will give up all digital devices (phone, laptop, TV, iPad, etc) for a period of time. Will start with 24 hours, then build on it: 48, and maybe even a 72 hour digital detox. 

Nota Bene

1. What if I need to set an alarm?

Use the travel alarm clock you have. It's old, clunky, and gets the job done.

2. What if I need to take a picture?

Use the Nikon camera you have. No, you may not share the picture right away.

3. What if I get bored? 

Have reading material ready: a stack of magazines that you never have time to read because, yes - too busy reading stuff on your phone. And books, of course.

4. During the detox, place your technology out of sight. Maybe even under a padlock. 

5. What if there is an emergency? Of course, you can use your phone then.

6. Are audiobooks allowed? No.

7. Can I use Alexa to play music or add things to the list? No. 

I leave you with two incredible TED talks about technology addition and being a digital zombie. The time to make a change is NOW. Put down that phone. Log off that Facebook. Turn off that TV.

Society is guiding our children mindlessly towards technology at an alarming rate, without taking a step back to examine the potential impact this could have. For many, technology flooding starts very early in life, and is hard to escape as we become increasingly dependent on technology for even the simplest of tasks.
In a hyperconnected world, where mobile devices have become appendices to our body and people check their social media accounts hundreds of times a day, human interaction is sacrificed daily in favour of digital exchanges.