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Friday, October 16, 2015

Digital Privacy for Kids: Why I Don't Post Baby Photos Online

I got to meet my baby nephew this weekend.  He is very cute!  He has wiggly little arms, a wrinkly forehead, attentive eyes, and the cutest baby comb-over.

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Although I want everyone to adore his comb-over as much as I do, there are three reasons I don't post kid info online.

1)  I don't want to help identity thieves

Most online baby announcements include the baby's full name, birth date, and sometimes location.  The mother's profile may also have other pertinent info, including answers to security questions (e.g. mother's maiden name), photos of their current home and neighborhood, and more. 

I'd rather not have all that potentially useful data available for identity thieves or creepers. (Privacy settings help, but they're not perfect.)

2)  I don't want to create an online persona for someone other than me

Babies and little kids don't have any say in whether their photos, videos, anecdotes, achievements, frustrations, and plans are put online.  If I post all these things about my nieces and nephews, they will already have online identities (established by me) when they age into adolescence and start getting their own social media profiles.  If I spend a decade telling the world all about them, they will lose the chance to independently establish their own identities and their own digital privacy preferences.

3)  Kids have feelings too

One blogger that I follow made the decision to share less and less about her kids as they got older.  She figured that they would not be embarrassed if the world knew their babyhood stories, but they would get to a certain age where they would not want to have everything about their lives shared on their mom's blog.  By the time kids get to elementary age, the things we find cute or funny might be legitimately embarrassing to them (and searchable by their friends).

This is related to point number two.  I want some control over what's shared about me on the Internet.  I'm going to assume that kids will want that same control, and perhaps would look back and be rightly upset if I shared about them too freely.

Those are the three reasons I support digital privacy for kids. I'm not saying everyone else is wrong for posting photos and stories of kids on social media.  (I very much enjoy those cute photos).

I think families have to do what makes sense to them on this issue, erring on the side of privacy when they're not sure, and there will be many different approaches.  It's one of the many technology-related parenting decisions my own parents never had to worry about!

And I think non-parents also need to be aware of what they are posting about other people's kids, and make sure they have permission before names, photos, or any other identifiable information goes out into the world wide web.

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