Babies and kids on Facebook. Some people can't get enough, while others wish those little mugs and pudgy fingers would stay off the site. So, what's okay and what's not when it comes to showcasing your family online? I think most of my friends do it right: They don't flood my feed with their progeny, but the few kiddo pics they do post make my heart happy. I mean, who doesn't love scrolling past chubby cheeks, teddy bear love, and teeny tiny shoes after a day at the office? Plus, children are a big part of any parent's life, and I think it's cool when moms and dads want to share something so precious with the world.
That said, sometimes, some of you out there (no names!) have posted a few not-so-cool photos of your kids. Photos that, well, shouldn't be posted of anyone, regardless of age. The top three offending images (to me, at least!) are:
1. Spit up. While I'm sorry that your baby just ruined your work outfit, I'd also like you to pause and think about why you're changing that outfit. So nobody sees it, right? Because even though spit up is totally natural and normal, it's also kind of gross, right? So, yeah. Don't post it for everyone in your network to see.
2. Toilet training. Why, why, why people ever think this is okay, I have no idea. As much as I might adore you and your child, let's face it, I would prefer to never watch either of you do your business. Let's leave that behind closed doors. Plus, on a more important level than the gross-out factor, is the fact that the images that you post online will live forever. That means that when Junior is a teenager, and his friends do an image search for him, this very personal moment just might come up. Is that fair to your kid? I'd argue no.
3. Obvious illness. I totally get why you might ask your Facebook community for advice on dealing with a sick kid, but posting photos of said kid is going a step too far. I simply cannot understand the impulse to share pics of feverish, flu-ridden children on Facebook, unless it's for attention or pity--which is something you probably shouldn't be using your little ones for in the first place. Here's the thing. I don't know a single adult who would purposefully share (or allow someone else to share) a photo of themselves looking flushed, exhausted, and generally unwell. We want people to see us at our best, and I'd think that if your child had a choice in the matter, they would feel the same way.
Which brings me to the whole ethical dilemma of whether or not it's okay to post pictures of children on Facebook at all. In fact, the same question was posed just last week in the New York Times, when a reader asked whether or not sharing a baby's image was a violation of the wee one's privacy. It's a complicated issue, but I'm leaning toward the kids on this one. When Facebook came around, I was already well into my 20s, and at least partially aware of what it meant to have an online presence. I have friends who still to this day aren't on Facebook at all because they're private people and don't want everybody up in their business. To each their own. But when you share pictures of your child, you're making that online decision for her, before she has the ability to think for herself or understand the concept of privacy in the first place.
I'm not condemning the occasional milestone snapshot or the obligatory newborn pic to announce baby's arrival—but I truly question "tagging" kids, sharing intimate moments (I consider anything involving nudity or bodily fluids pretty intimate!), or creating individual Facebook pages in their name. Everyone knows that a parent's love for their child can be matched by no other—and it's obvious that all of this Facebook sharing comes from excitement and adoration—but part of what it means to love a child is to recognize that although she is (and will forever be) your baby, she is also her own person with her own life ahead of her, and her own important decisions to make.
Besides, wait a few years and you'll probably want to cut back her online presence, anyway!
So, Moms? Dads? Are you guilty of posting any of the three worst Facebook photos? Do you also wonder where the line is when it comes to kids and social media? Whether you agree with me or think I'm overthinking this, let me know in the comments.
Image of a father taking Facebook photos of his kid via Shutterstock.