Thursday, February 20, 2014

kids and social media

So I follow a few "mom bloggers" on social media, specifically instagram.

Every once in a while they post a picture of their kid doing something cute with a dreamy filter and someone in the comments feels like it is a little over board...writes about it...and then I follow the 235 comment thread with mean words like "hater" "unfollow" and "troll".

While usually I just think maybe all of these people have a little too much time on their hands, one such thread came through a favorite blogger just a couple of days ago when she posted a pic of her kid asleep.

The choice words for this commenters disdain was "exploitation." This got me this child exploitation??

When I inevitably post pics of my kids doing various things that I find cute or hilarious without their consent, is that exploitation?

They have no say in what I'm posting. And these pictures will be around forever. We've all heard it said over and over that you can never truly delete a digital photograph. But Exploitation??

But then I remembered last year when I saw someone else post that a stranger had lifted her picture of her sick kid and his dad and used it (in a fake account) to raise money for their "Chronically ill and dying child." Ugh. Mine and all other compassionate human beings' stomachs just churned.

I have a surprising amount of friends who have lately been posting pictures of their kids in the tub. They're cute. We all have done it with the strategically placed wash cloth, but still, is that exploitation? Should we really be doing that?

This all hit a little close to home when about three months ago we had one of those conversations with our kid, one that I hope no mom ever really has to go through. While telling us what went on in her day when she was out of our care, she said a few things that sent up red flags.

Oh who am I kidding, there wasn't just a red flag or too, it was like when you're looking at a stadium and everyone holds up those signs to produce a collective know those times? Only it was like the whole stadium in unison, all 10,000 people held up those signs to form one humongous red flag. And I had butterflies in my stomach that felt like they were made of rocks.

There were so so many panicked phone calls to friends, and social worker parents, and friends' social worker parents, followed by super hard and super hard awkward conversations. Guys, those two weeks were HARD.

In the end I am fully confident that it wasn't bad and there there were unknown bad choices made and generational gaps, but man can I easily conjure up some of those rock butterflies just by thinking of that first conversation in the car.

And so coming from that I have a hard time seeing kids in bathtubs on unprotected instagrams/twitter/facebook. Maybe it IS exploitation. Maybe in 14 years when our babies have become teenagers and they find one of these pictures they will be more mad than when we talk about whether Santa is real or not.

So in a way, while it can also be the new-age embarrassing baby book for new boyfriends, I think that it is a bit of exploitation. And who are we to decide for our future kids what the world sees?

There is an inherent risk to posting pictures too, that I don't think I could have appreciated until a couple of months ago, and for myself it is a risk I will continue to take. But there is a bit of caution that surrounds it now. Exploitation isn't my thing.

So I want to hear from you...Do you think that taking pics of the more vulnerable moments and putting them out for the world to see is exploitation?


  1. I recently decided to quit posting any naked pics, hence the private Instagram you got from me earlier this week, but for the rest of it I feel like it's just the New Normal - most of their friends are going to have lots of online pics from their infancy too. It's not always true, but in the case of social media pics, I think there's safety in numbers.

  2. But UH offline sometime I am gonna need to hear the rest of that story!!

  3. I can't imagine whatever it is you went through, but I can imagine the plague of fear. I'm so sorry.

    I can sense the temptation to share every blessed adorable thing that is about to emerge into my life… and I hope and pray for the ability to sensor myself. To post some of the holy and brutiful moments for others to savor as well, but to save and protect my LO from the dangers of the real world for as long as possible...