Don’t post your kids’ embarrassing photos

March 1, 2012

Picture the family photos you hang on your walls for everyone to see. Chances are they are of smiling, happy faces representing the best of what your family is (or, on a bad day, strives to be). Would you ever display on the fireplace mantel a photo of your child and anything to do with bodily functions? No. How about your overweight child with a mouthful of cake? Probably not. Or your child crying because he’s afraid of going down the slide at the playground? Again, no.

We don’t permanently show unflattering photos of our kids at home, so why is it that so many parents have no problem posting their kids’ embarrassing moments online for the whole world to see? Chances are if you’re on Facebook or YouTube, you’ve had a few friends post embarrassing photos or video clips of their children. Maybe the child is having a meltdown, or in the yard running around naked, or wearing a Cinderella costume for Halloween (even though he’s a boy). While the antics of small children may seem funny and harmless now, the fact is that five years from now it will be embarrassing for the child; and 10 years from now it will open the child up to teasing and ridicule.

More and more, human resources professionals are searching through job candidates’ online footprints when making hiring decisions. Do you really want a potential employer to see your future 18-year-old as a 4-year-old in her princess underwear doing the potty dance? And, as it’s commonplace now for people to Google potential romantic interests, is it fair for your child to have to explain those awkward photos on the first date? Save the embarrassing stuff for at least the fifth date! Or what if your child becomes a politician or celebrity? Then people will be paid to dig up those humiliating moments.

But perhaps you think that because your blog is private or because only “friends” on Facebook can view your photos or because no name is attached to them there is nothing to worry about. Not true. Once you post the silly photo or video, all it takes is one person to share it on her public Facebook wall and add a comment using your child’s name. Then poof, anonymity is gone. And privacy online is decaying fast. With face-recognition technology advancing quickly and search engines tracking you and your family, 10 years from now when your child is launching into the real world there will be no privacy.

As parents, let’s respect our children and the online legacy we are laying down for them while they are young. Display their triumphs and strengths, not their childhood indiscretions, for all the future to see.

Have you already posted embarrassing photos of your child online? Maybe this wikiHow tutorial can help: How to Apologize to Your Child for Putting Embarrassing Pictures of Him/Her Online.

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