Kids on the Internet: My Rules


[please, judge me for letting the dog babysit]

As a teacher, avid blog reader, and now mom, I think about minors on the internet often. Before having Sawyer my husband and I talked a lot about it and were on the same page with what we were comfortable with. I've been wanting to post about it for awhile but have had trouble organizing my thoughts, so I've decided to go with a list. Of rules. That have exceptions.

Isn't that always the way? I'm pretty flexible when it comes to most of these, and I know that there will be times when there are slip-ups, accidental and otherwise (on my part and the part of others). I also know that, like with most rules, there are many people that will disagree. In the short eight months that I've been a parent, I've learned that there are a lot of right ways and very few wrong ones. You have to do what works with what's best for you and your family.

Rule 1: Teachers May Not Post Pictures of Their Underage Students on Social Media

This is something I am not flexible with whatsoever- if your student is under eighteen-years-old and their parents have not given you permission to put their son's or daughter's picture online you need to leave it off. As a parent I don't want someone displaying my kid, no matter how cute, for a whole bunch of strangers to see. It's a violation of privacy and I have heard of court cases on the matter. In order to protect our students and our professional integrity, you simply can't post class pictures online. I've put up photos of a few students, but only those that are eighteen and graduated. I have a few friends that will take pictures from behind or have had kids hold up things in front of their faces- much better! But full on pictures are just asking for trouble.
 
I know most teachers are coming from a good place when they do this- they're proud of their students, they think their work is awesome, or are excited about a field trip or performance. But when your credential is on the line you have to play it safe.

Rule 2: No Face Pictures of Sawyer on the Blog or Twitter

I highly doubt there are any pedophiles reading my blog, but I do know that often images are taken and reposted, pinned, or whatever without permission, and I don't want my kid floating aimlessly about the interwebs. Plus, what if ends up being a really shy, private teenager who doesn't want things online? My husband is not on social media and is this way- Sawyer may be as well.

Rule 3: We Really, Really Prefer if Family Members and Friends Ask Before Posting Pictures of Sawyer on Facebook and Instagram

Over the past year I've done a lot cleanup on Facebook and Instagram- my rule tends to be that if I wouldn't say hello to you in passing or wish you happy birthday, then I'm going to unfriend you (unless you're super interesting or dramatic, then I might keep you around for shits and giggles). My point is that I pretty much know whose going to see the pictures I post. But I don't know your friends. I don't know if one of your friends is someone I know but don't want seeing my business or having access to comment on my kid. I don't feel comfortable seeing people I don't know judge my child, or start making comparisons. Plus, we didn't want excited family members annoying everyone with a flood of baby pictures, either (although I think the Sawyer novelty has worn off).

That being said, we're not completely opposed and it's not a firm "never." My mom texts me occasionally asking me to post a picture, and I always say yes. Why? Because she asked. That's the bottom line. I just want to be paid the courtesy of a request. And family members have posted pictures of him without permission and I haven't caused a fuss, I just know that if it continued I'd have to nicely say something. And I know I've slipped up in the past, but over the past few years I try to always ask the parent before I post (or I just keep the picture for my personal album). And I'd take down any picture in a heartbeat, with an apology, if asked.

And, just like with the first rule, we know that wanting to share pictures of our kid is coming from a good place. But he's our first kid and we're aware of the craziness of the internet so for now this is what feels right for us.

Plus, what if he's famous one day? Then we could sell these pictures for ca$h money, not let the tabloids get it off Facebook for free. Come on, now.

Rule 4: Accept the Judgement

One thing I've had to learn the past few months is that I have to accept the judgement that comes with posting pictures of your kid online. When I put a picture on Instagram of Sawyer eating solids for the first time I knew that some may balk at the age we decided to introduce them at. I'm sure some people think it's gross that we let him interact with the dogs as much as we do (how many times a day do I have to say "Sawyer stop eating the dog!" now?). Yes, his head tilts occasionally because he's still getting over his torticollis. People are judgmental, it's just the way life is. So when you post you have to accept that people may have some feedback. 

Rule 5: Consider the Future

Like I mentioned before, I don't know what future Sawyer is going to be like. While I definitely post pictures, I try to be mindful about what ones. No bath time or naked ones, and in the future nothing that may potentially humiliate him. I won't write posts that highlight his shortcomings or complain about his behavior (unless he drives my car through the living room or develops pyromaniac tendencies). I'll keep a sense of humor, but it will always be my intent to be kind. I know it's important to keep it real, but to me being respectful of my child is where the realness lies. 

I'd love to hear your thoughts.  

3 comments:

  1. So much to think about! I'm not quite at the point where I can wrap my head around all this stuff, but I know it is in my future. Facebook is going to be a tough one with friends and family -- I definitely will be keeping some of your thoughts on the matter in mind.

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  2. I agree with your rules because they're pretty much the same as mine :)
    My kids are 9 and I've been blogging, tweeting and instagraming for a few years now and this is the approach I've taken as well. I'm also aware this stuff is changing fast so everything we think about this will likely be very quaint and funny to read about in 10 years' time! But as long as we consider what we do online and abide by others' rules with regard to their kids and images, we should all be fine. Nice post.

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