It’s a fact of life in this day and age: The Internet is Forever.
But parents don’t seem to take this into account when they post pictures of their children online. Perhaps they want everyone to see Little Tommy’s second birthday celebration. In this case, “everyone” to them is family and close friends. But on the Web, “everyone” is actually everyone. Everyone is hundreds of millions of people.
Granted, a billion people probably won’t end up looking at your Facebook album. But documenting your child’s life online—and doing so, obviously, without their permission—may leave them with their story from birth exposed to the world, for all eternity. Other people can easily download any photo on Facebook to their computer in one second. Then, even if you delete it, that photo can exist forevermore. That person can copy it, email it, or post it back up themselves.
It’s a problem that previous generations never had to face because social media and internet openness, or the internet at all, didn’t exist.
Recently, a study found that 92 percent of U.S. children have “some type of online presence by the time they are 2 years old.” (The average percent, which spanned 10 regions including Canada and Europe, was still well above 80 percent.) One third of mothers posted pictures of their precious newborns, and one third said the posted sonograms of their as-yet unborn child. That’s disturbing. That’s not necessary. The amount of people who want or need to see this is probably somewhere between 5 and 25, a number easily reachable by email or in person. The internet is for immortal, world-to-see content—NOT your baby.
Doubly bad parenting: Teaching a baby to shotgun, then posting the photo online.
The study goes on to say that the average “digital birth” of children is six months, with one third of babies having photos published online within two weeks of birth. Many have dozens, if not hundreds, of photos within their first couple of years or even months.
While Americans were the most apt to give digital birth to their babies, Canadian mothers were the least concerned. The fact that this is happening is bad enough—but not to be recognized as an issue may be even worse.
While there may not be an immediate danger in putting your baby’s content online, remember that they eventually become their own person. And with hundreds of their photos, and dozens of stories of their childhood immortalized for millions to view, what kind of fragile, tormented being might they become?
Babies can’t control their privacy, and for that, it’s only respectful to keep them from the internet. If it doesn’t benefit them to be online, why do it? They’re more likely to come at you in their teens and say, “hey mom, for crying out loud, why is there a photo of me naked in the tub online?” than say “hey mom, for crying out loud, why did you never show the world that photo of me naked in the tub?”
Walmart has photo albums for pretty cheap. Give ’em a try.