Bath time and beach photos of infants and toddlers can be adorable, but partially or completely naked pictures of children on social media are NOT okay.
Guest Post by Jarrett Arthur — get free updates of new posts here.
Lately, there seems to have been a sudden uptick in the number of social media posts I’ve seen of young children in various stages of undress: bath time, yard sprinklers, beach trips, adorable 2-year-old clothing refusal tantrums. The scenes depicted are always cute, and always show the child or children having an absolute blast engaging in whatever activity they’re engrossed in. But in this age of over-sharing and boundary-less showing and telling of personal matters, it consistently surprises me the apparent lack of understanding of consequences that adults and parents seem to have when it comes to online matters.
There is nothing shameful about the human body and I believe wholeheartedly in the importance of allowing kids to express themselves with or without clothing on. You want your young child to enjoy running around your house naked? I’m all for it. You want your kid to frolic through the sprinklers without a bathing suit on in your secluded and private back yard? Fantastic. But there are real and significant dangers to posting those photos on the internet
If your social media accounts are private and you only have very close friends and family members in your network, and you’ve explicitly gone over with every single one of them that they are not allowed to share any of your posts or show them to anyone not in your network, then this article doesn’t really apply to you. But for those parents that have public accounts, private accounts that allow acquaintances and friends of friends to join, or private accounts in which you have not had a conversation with each of your followers about privacy, it’s important to acknowledge the significance of your posts.
When posting nude or partially naked photos of your infant or toddler, ask yourself, do you really want ALL eyes on your child? Here are 3 reasons you should consider keeping those naked baby pictures private:
1) Pedophiles: This is an obvious one, but important to really consider. It is so incredibly easy for your photos to end up in the wrong hands or more accurately in front of the wrong eyes. Sadly there is an over-abundance of innocent photos of nude and semi-nude children online for pedophiles to abuse and share. When you blast an image out into the ether, you have no control over it… and no knowledge of who’s looking, sharing, or using those photos for evil. The likelihood that your innocent photo will get exploited is higher than you think. Abuse is abuse whether direct contact happens or not.
2) What’s private is private…or is it? One of the first things we teach young children about boundaries in order to keep them safe from predators is what parts of their body are private and for nobody to touch except for them. It’s an essential lesson for even young kids to learn because it helps them differentiate between what kind of touch is acceptable and what kind of touch is unacceptable and should be stopped and reported. What kind of message are you sending when you publicly share parts of your child that are private? Even if you’re tempted to rationalize the practice by saying that your kid is too young to know that those photos are being shared, it still contradicts the lesson. How can you expect your child to respect their private parts when you don’t consider them private?
3) It sets a bad example. More and more I’m being asked to talk to teens about the implications of sending or posting sexy, provocative, and scantily clad photos of themselves. Kids these days have grown up with social media and truly do not understand the enormity of what it means to put a risqué photograph out into the virtual world. They don’t understand that there are evil people who will exploit those photos, or try to connect with them, that those photos will never disappear and might have long-term professional and personal implications, and that NOTHING is private online. Inappropriate over-sharing of your child’s life, especially nude or semi-nude photos, sets a bad example for teens and young adults. Teaching new generations about the responsibility that comes with being online needs to be passed down from older and wiser generations.
If you’re adamant about sharing photos of your child online, go right ahead and share them. But be selective about what you share. Your extended online network does not need to see bath time pics of your child. By all means take those memory-laden photos, but keep them to yourself and choose to share fully clothed photos instead.
The rule of thumb, I suggest parents use is this one: only share naked photos of your child with people who you would feel 100% comfortable letting bathe him or her without you being there. Take a moment to think about your social media network and ask yourself how many of your “friends” and “followers” you can say that about.
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Jarrett Arthur provides customized self-defense training and education for women, kids, and parents. She created M.A.M.A. Self-Defense, a revolutionary system designed for moms that focus on how moms can protect their children from violent encounters, as well as what and how to teach kids about personal safety. One of the highest ranking female black belts in Krav Maga in the U.S., Jarrett has been featured as a self-defense expert on “Ellen”, “Access Hollywood”, “Good Day LA”, “The Kris Jenner Show”, KTLA Fox News, in Fitness Magazine, The NY Times, and more. Learn more about Jarrett at JarrettArthur.com.
Raising awareness of the worldwide epidemic of child abuse has become Ginger’s life mission. An impassioned child advocate, trainer, speaker and child forensic interviewer, Ginger regularly blogs about child protection issues and has released a report for parents and other caring adults, “10 Scary Apps.” Ginger can be contacted via her website, “Ginger Kadlec: BeAKidsHero™” at BeAKidsHero.com or find her on Facebook at facebook.com/gingergkadlec.
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