Maybe you’ve posted one or two photos of your little ones on Facebook, and your best friend has put up fifty. Your mum has recently discovered Facebook – and loves the photos of the extended family, the cheeky cute cousins, the Christmas morning moments happening all around the world. But how do you feel about the social media revolution? What advice should you listen to, when it comes to sharing your family?
This hilarious tumblr blog, iftoddlershadfacebook.tumblr.com, takes a sideways look at how toddlers would post about our behaviour as moms – seeing as we spend so much time photographing, posting, and reading about their cute shenanigans. One of my favourite posts from that page is: Date night tonight. Any suggestions for making this not happen? The toddler suggestion is to throw up in mom’s hair. It’s a gooden, we’ve all been there, and it’s very reassuring to know that we’re not alone in those struggling moments.
The Facebook posting mom can come in for a lot of criticism, and as usual, it’s hard to be right. I’ve been looking up the local school’s Stay Safe and Webwise programmes lately. You can view the handbook here, and you will come away from any reading material believing that no corner of the internet is a safe place. And, I guess, it’s not. We can’t imagine a life without it, though. Its possible to seek advice from other moms through Facebook group pages, and also you can simply laugh and sigh and enjoy pictures posted by family and friends. The beautiful, cute, gorgeous pictures. Every once in a while though, you’ll hear the question: Are we wrong to post them at all?
The thing about internet privacy, is that it can seem easy to ignore the issue. Hasn’t it always been difficult to keep 100% of your life private? In your parent’s day, there existed a phonebook, which listed their name and – good grief – their phone number. Years ago, it was even easier to find out your home address, and the name of your townland or house; the parish newsletter or the local gazette always carried photos of neighbours, extended family and their children at local events – with the date, time and general attendance of those events – so should we be shocked and worried now, to find that not everything that we publish online is confined to the private and handpicked group of friends that we have?
The biggest reason we should be careful is because theft and copy of a child’s image is easier now. Back in the day, the only way to manipulate the parish newsletter was with a soviet-era style photocopy machine. Today, the “save as” and “share” buttons allow any ne’er do well to make off with your child’s image, once it has been posted online. It’s hard to know what to do, but as a compromise, I find myself flooding Whatsapp and Viber with photos of my little ones, though of course these images can still be copied. I take heart from the smaller audience of a Whatsapp group though, and also the back-up options mean that these precious years are recorded in some way. I’ll have a memory of the beautiful words of truth from the mouths of babes. The trust in their eyes and their wide smiles. Most of us are too busy with real life to keep a diary and in some way, social media is our daily journal, keeping and minding the best days of our lives so that we can revisit them in years to come.
For those who feel like they want to post some images, but wish to protect their children and these images as much as possible, there are a couple of options – not perfect, but worth considering: Waterlogue is a funky app that will take your image and render it as a watercolour painting; the details of your child’s face are slightly less pristine and clear, but still utterly gorgeous. Watermarking your photo is another possibility, in other words putting a grey or other type of stamp across the front of it, to prevent or discourage theft of the photo. You may also wish to compress the photo to a low resolution, which can be done by editing it in MS Office or other software, so that the quality of the image is actually not very good at all. This may have its uses when a general ‘hello!’ from one side of the world is being sent like a loving message in a bottle.
What are your thoughts on sharing family pictures on social media?