Why I Don’t Post About My Kids Online

Katie Wells Avatar

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Why I Don't Post About My Kids Online
Wellness Mama » Blog » Motherhood » Why I Don’t Post About My Kids Online

If you’ve read much on this blog, you might have noticed that I don’t post many details about my kids online, other than very general information about how my 4-year-old helped me clean or how one of my kids once spilled activated charcoal all over my kitchen.

I am *hopefully* going to give birth sometime in the near future to baby number 6, and while I will share my birth experience and maybe even a picture of the birth or our baby, I won’t be sharing the name, weight, or even the exact birthdate. There won’t be a cute birth announcement online (even on my personal social media accounts), and I’ll just share our happy news with friends and family via phone, text, or email.

But Why Not Share?

I get a surprising number of questions about the lack of photos and details about my children both in the comments of the blog, and on social media, with some commenters even going so far as to claim that I must not really have children or that I am ashamed of them. My personal favorite is when someone comments that I must be a bitter, single old woman using someone else’s photo to make money online. Hilarious!

The truth is that I am super-proud of my kids and would love to plaster my blog and social media with pictures of them, but I don’t. In fact, I don’t even post about my kids on my own personal social media accounts as this was a decision my husband and I made for our family after a lot of thought and research.

Before I explain, I want to make it very clear that this is a personal decision that my husband and I have made for our family. I am sharing because I have received so many questions about why I don’t post about my kids (and in anticipation of requests to share a photo of new baby). This post is not, in any way, a judgement or a reflection of any other parent’s decisions about posting about their child online, just an explanation of my personal policy on this.

It Isn’t My Right

We live in a unprecedented time in technology and face decisions that our parents didn’t even have the need to consider. None of us (unless you are a lot younger than I am), grew up with our parents having smart phones or posting our pictures on Facebook.

In fact, if you were like me, the closest our pictures came to being “shared” or “liked” when we were kids were when friends and relatives would visit and parents would bring out the ever-dreaded scrapbooks. The physical scrapbooks or “baby book” that had hand-cut printed photos and lovingly worded captions to chronicle our early lives.

They didn’t post these online for everyone to see (because the web wasn’t around yet!) and in a sense we grew up in a safe and protected bubble compared to what our children face today. For me, widespread access to the internet and social media took off while I was in college, so while my first employers could have Googled me, the most they would have found is high school or college graduation announcements or achievements in my adult life.

The same won’t be true for the current generation of children. Future friends, employers and spouses will be able to Google them and potentially find pictures of their birth, or when they were potty training, or baby bath pictures or embarrassing childhood temper tantrums. Those personal childhood moments that we can safely relegate to scrapbooks or photo-albums may be very publicly available for our children.

To me, though I have the responsibility and honor of raising these tiny humans, I don’t “own” them as they are individual human beings who will one day be much more in life than just my adorable baby. While I get to make some really important life decisions for them, like what I feed them for dinner or how they are taught about life and morality, I decided to leave the decision of how and what their online presence would look like to them. And I hope that this is a decision they will make carefully after much thought once they become teenagers or adults.

Here’s the thing… I’m a pretty private person myself and while I share a lot on this blog in hopes of connecting with other moms and helping other families, I’d be pretty upset if someone was sharing pictures of my bad days, or going to the bathroom, or even just personal details without my permission.

I want to afford my children this same respect and don’t feel that I have the right to decide for them what part of their lives become permanently available online.

While we, as moms, are somewhat “the Facebook generation,” a lot of today’s teenagers are choosing social media (like Snap Chat) that offers more privacy and anonymity. I want to consider the fact that my children may one day value online anonymity even more than I do, and they may not have wanted me to post about them on social media or other online forums.

It Can’t Be Un-Done

As a child, I read a story about a woman who often gossiped, and to illustrate how destructive this could be, she was instructed to go to the top of a tower and tear open a feather pillow and scatter the feathers into the wind. She was then to come down from the tower and attempt to collect every single feather.

The moral of the story is that painful words could not be taken back, and that the damage can spread far and wide. I think this same analogy can apply when it comes to the internet.

As all too many teenagers have learned the hard way, it is not always almost impossible to undo things that have been posted online. Others can take screen shots of pictures so even if they are deleted, a copy will remain. Harsh words can immediately reach hundreds or thousands of people and not be taken back.

In an online world where everything can be cached, archived, and stored in the cloud, we have to assume that anything we post online will be permanently available in some form. This certainly goes for adults too, but I feel that it is even more important with my kids.

As I said above, I don’t feel that it is my right to share about my child’s life online and a large part of the reason is that they won’t be able to undo or un-share the things I’ve posted about them should they desire to do so when they are teenagers or adults. As we are the first generation to really face this transition, I have to wonder how our children will feel about this when they are older. Only time will tell, but for now, those are some feathers I’m trying not to scatter into the wind on behalf of my kids.

Is Over-Sharing Dangerous?

I am sometimes amazed by how much I know about friends and family members who I haven’t actually had a face-to-face conversation with in years. In fact, it is sometimes awkward to run into friends I haven’t seen in years and have trouble making conversation because thanks to Facebook I already know their children’s names, that their dad died last year, and that their neighbors are having marital trouble.

I don’t say this as a judgement in any way and certainly understand the desire to share on social media. In most cases, the over-sharing is completely harmless, but I wonder if in the hands of someone who didn’t have good intentions it would remain so.

For instance, I’ve read many stories of investigators who (in order to show the potential dangers of social media to parents) were able to find everything needed to abduct a child from a parent’s social media account. Thankfully, in the examples I’ve heard, these were police officers making a point and not child predators, but it raises some interesting questions. But if a police officer or investigator can find a child’s name, birthdate and school from a parent’s social media posts, it seems logical that a predator might be able to as well.

Am I being paranoid? Maybe… but maybe not.

Identity theft is another potential concern for me. Think about this… If the details of a child’s life have been shared on social media from birth, a person could potentially find that child’s date and time of birth, eye color, hair color, photos, school location and home address online.

Think about this too… many people use a child’s name or birthdate or some combination as the password for various internet accounts. Many of us have a maiden name on Facebook to be able to find friends. Many of us list our past places of employment and residence in our Facebook “about” section or LinkedIn profile. How many of your security questions to online accounts could someone answer with that information? How many of us have taken online quizzes or filled out those “21 Facts About Me” that just happen to coincide with common answers to security questions.

I personally know people who have had their accounts and lives hacked and suffered for months trying to clean up the damage. They eventually found out that the hackers were able to get in by using publicly available information that they’d posted online to answer security questions and get into their email. From there, the hackers could reset other passwords and gain access to other accounts.

Is that likely? Hopefully not, but I’ve seen first-hand that it is possible. I also know people who have had their child’s personally identifying information stolen and used in tax fraud, credit card applications, or other fraudulent ways.

I know that I definitely err on the side of extreme caution, but I’d rather do this than the alternative, especially when I’m talking about my children.

Online Privacy is a False Security

I have my personal privacy settings on all social media set to the highest settings so someone can’t even find me or view my profiles without already being friends with someone I know. I feel that this offers a false sense of security though, since many people still post sensitive personal information assuming that it is protected by our privacy settings.

At the same time, these settings are changing constantly. Every few months I re-check these settings and sometimes discover that thanks to a recent Facebook update (or any other social media account for that matter), things that I’d previously hidden from view with privacy settings were now publicly available or that it is no longer possible to stay hidden in some searches. I also actually read the privacy policies and realize that we aren’t really as safe as we think we might be.

With the addition of facial recognition software online and in social media, privacy is further blurred. Online algorithms can now suggest that we tag friends in pictures and determine who our closest friends are based on shared photos and status updates. This creeps me out somewhat when it happens to my own photos, but it is definitely something I want to prevent for my children (because again, it can’t be un-done).

In fact:

There’s a more insidious problem, though… Myriad applications, websites, and wearable technologies are relying on face recognition today, and ubiquitous bio-identification is only just getting started. In 2011, a group of hackers built an app that let you scan faces and immediately display their names and basic biographical details, right there on your mobile phone. Already developers have made a working facial recognition API for Google Glass. While Google has forbidden official facial recognition apps, it can’t prevent unofficial apps from launching. There’s huge value in gaining real-time access to view detailed information on the people with whom we interact.

Could any of us have predicted when we were growing up what our digital lives would look like today? I certainly couldn’t have.

We truly have no idea what the future of technology holds for our children or what it will look like a decade from now. I’m personally trying to guard their future privacy (and right to decide their own online sharing) in the only way I know how- by keeping their information offline until they decide they want it there.

The Reality of Online Judgement

We’ve probably all seen the heartbreaking stories of kids who were incessantly bullied online. Some of these children have even been driven to suicide by this online bullying (including a girl who killed herself after being shamed online by her father). Statistics show that kids use social media metrics as a real-life measure of their likability and worth as a person. This can certainly have its consequences and is a cautionary tale for us as parents, but many experts think that the same thing is happening (on perhaps a more subtle level) with adults too.

While most parents once reported being secure and relatively not-stressed about their parenting decisions, many parents now call parenting “stressful” and “complicated.”

One possible explanation experts give? That we are constantly being judged by our online parenting choices, since social media has become an un-official second opinion. I’m not just talking about the heated debates that rage on controversial topics where parents blatantly call each other names and claim that CPS should take their children away for their poor choices. I’m talking about the more subtle comments on day-to-day posts, the number of “likes” (or lack thereof) and the more passive aggressive feedback that makes many of us feel the need to constantly showcase our good parenting moments online.

Why do we feel the need to wish our children (even ones who aren’t on social media) a happy birthday or congratulate them on a sports win? Especially considering that our kids are often either too young to read these posts (and not on social media yet) or old enough to be embarrassed and annoyed that we are tagging them at all?

Could it be that we crave the likes, comments and positive feedback?

I get it. Parenting is hard and positive feedback is helpful. I definitely bounce ideas off of friends or ask for advice in person. I just try really hard not to use my kids as a means for social affirmation.

On the flip side, even as an adult and parent, I know the pain of online judgement and how hard it can be to face that daily. We hear the news stories about teenagers and online bullying, but the same thing happens daily among adults. I don’t post much on personal social media but from my years of blogging, I am very aware of just how hurtful and hateful people can be on the internet (and how amazing most people are!).

I have gotten actual hate mail from people simply because they disagreed with my food choices, my outfit in a picture, or the fact that I avoid iodine with my thyroid problem. I’ve actually had someone email me that they hope I “choke on a piece of meat and die and then catch fire in a fur coat” because I posted this recipe. Seriously.

Other People Probably Don’t Care

With all the above reasons that online information can be potentially mis-used, I feel it is important to touch on a much more likely option that my younger (unmarried with no kids) brother often reminds me of.

Most people just don’t care about seeing pictures of my kids (or dog, or house, or anything else) every ten minutes on social media. That isn’t to say it is a reason not to share these things, but it is a running joke of sorts about how the Facebook news feed is just for pictures of people’s babies, cats and dogs.

Harsh though it may be, none of these people really care that much about our kids or pets. They certainly don’t care as much as we do. Of course, there are grandparents and family members who absolutely do and who love to see hourly updates of our kids, and I’m definitely not saying we shouldn’t share them.

I just *personally* prefer to share the pictures and cute things my kids say with their grandparents and aunts and uncles via text or email rather than with the whole world via social media or my blog. My parents love seeing pictures and videos of when a grandchild learns to walk, or read, or anything else really. They love videos of my kids belting out a favorite song and I share it with them. The rest of the internet doesn’t really care (and it’s none of their business), so I don’t share it.

You Just Never Know

I know many things in this post seem alarmist and I don’t mean it that way, but I do think that you never truly know the potential consequences until they happen. Something may be a very low risk, but if you are the one it happens to, the statistics don’t matter.

A few years ago, I hemorrhaged and had an emergency c-section from an undetected placenta previa at 35-weeks gestation. I’d had an ultrasound and regular prenatal care. I’d been checked multiple times. I had none of the risk factors. Do you know what the odds are of an un-detected complete previa at 35-weeks with my risk factors? Really, really low. Unfortunately, that statistic did little to help when I was bleeding. Not to be dramatic, but just to illustrate that statistics are only helpful if you are in the “safe” percentage.

Sure, the *fictional* story that circulated about the mom who posts a picture of her daughter on the first day of kindergarten on her Facebook profile only to have it stolen by a sex trafficker who now knows where her daughter is that day and goes on to abduct her and sell her into the sex trafficking industry is far-fetched and extremist. At the same time, how many of us have posted bath or beach photos of our children nude or almost nude that could end up in the hands of someone we wouldn’t want to see them.

The statistics are small and many stores like the one above are drastic and alarmist. I typically try very hard NOT to be over-protective of my children. They know how to safely use kitchen knives. They play in our backyard without me following 10-feet behind them. When we camp, they take short hikes around the woods without us. They build fires and carve sticks when we camp. Heck, I even let them make the decision to eat “un-healthy” food that I wouldn’t choose for them so they learn about making good choices and accessing risk in real-time. I don’t consider myself over-protective in the least when it comes to these things because they relate to real life skills.

I don’t consider being on social media an essential life skill and have yet to think of a single important life lesson my children miss out on by not being chronicled from birth online. Yes, the real risk of actual harm to a child from being shared online is small, but I also don’t see the benefit of over-sharing. To me, this is one area where I can easily protect my children without them missing out on anything important, so I choose to do that.

We also know that much online data, especially that shared on social media or that can be indexed by search engines, is stored in data repositories and can be archived indefinitely. We don’t (and can’t) know how this information may be used in the future and if we can ever remove it.

I’m not Anti-Social Media

I feel it is important to clarify that this decision does not stem from a dislike or fear of social media at all. In fact, I was on Myspace and have had a Facebook account since 2005, when it was only for college students who had a .edu email address. I still use many personal social media accounts to keep in touch with close friends and family, and for blogging.

I think social media is an amazing tool, when used correctly. At the same time (and perhaps because I’ve been using it for over a decade), I’ve seen some of the negative and unfortunate things that can happen when young children are allowed to share too much online too soon.

I won’t keep my kids off social media forever as I’m not opposed to their using it when they are older and responsible enough. I just don’t personally want to put them on there until they can make the decision themselves since I want to help them form a good sense of judgement and responsibility before giving them a tool like social media to use.

Bottom Line

At the end of the day, the central reason I don’t post pictures, names or information about my children online can be summed up in this way: I am not my children and I don’t feel that I have the right.

My children are individuals and I feel that they have the right to this privacy. They may currently depend on me to provide and protect their basic needs and rights, but one day they will be autonomous adults who may not have wanted their childhood chronicled in such a public way. I had the safety of a childhood that wasn’t publicly chronicled and I want to offer the same to my own children.

Don’t get me wrong… I take all. the. pictures. And make all the scrapbooks. They’ll have a detailed photo record of their childhood if they want it… it just won’t be online.

I also feel that there is a balance, even for me. I share pictures of them doing activities on social media, I just don’t show their faces or use their names. I talk about them in a general way. If you want to, you could find more pictures of my daughters’ hair than you’d ever care to see. I’m not perfect with this policy and I did share some pictures early-on in my parenting days (that have been mostly removed now). I just try really hard to afford my kids some online privacy, especially while being a “mama-blogger.”

I know I am in the minority in my decision, as 97% of U.S. moms who use Facebook report that they post pictures of their children online. I also know that just sharing my opinion is likely to open me up to some of the same criticism and online judgement I always hope to avoid, but since I have received so many genuine questions about this, I wanted to share my perspective.

Again, I’m sharing my own research and opinion on this matter and the post is titled “Why *I* Don’t Talk About *My* Kids Online” and not “Why YOU Shouldn’t Talk About Your Kids Online.” I don’t mean for this post to be controversial, though I suspect that it might be. I don’t mean this post as a judgement of any other mom… we all deal with that enough!

If you disagree with my stance on this issue, I’d love to hear about it and talk with you in the comments. All I ask is that we all keep it respectful and talk in a way that all of our children will be proud of.

Do you share about your kids online? How and why did you make this decision? Please weigh in below!

Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. WellnessMama.com is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


251 responses to “Why I Don’t Post About My Kids Online”

  1. Erin Avatar

    I can attest that your children do in fact exist; I’ve seen them at church! 😉

    I applaud you for this decision!

  2. Kim Avatar

    Thank you for sharing this! This is a good reminder, and a wake-up call for me to be a lot more careful online. Your honesty and articles are greatly appreciated!
    By the way, could you possibly write about your experience or tips with breastfeeding? I’m a new mom and it feels like practically all my time is spent nursing him. I don’t see how other moms do it all with more kids! Thanks again!

  3. Mackenzie Avatar

    Thank you so much for this post Katie. I completely agree with you and continue to have a great deal of respect for you (for so many reasons!). My husband and I don’t even have social media accounts at all for many of the reasons you stated so eloquently. It’s refreshing to know that we’re not the only ones who feel this way, as we are definitely in the minority. Our children are teenagers now and they are wisely making their own choices when it comes to social media and they’re glad that we haven’t exploited them. Privacy is definitely something that needs to be protected these days more than ever before. Thank you for always sharing your thoughts and helpful information in a respectful, non-judgmental way that everyone can either learn from or at least understand if they disagree. I don’t always agree with you on everything, but I do always respect your thoughts and research and you have helped me learn and do better for my family in so many ways. I appreciate you and your continued dedication to doing the best for your family and sharing that journey with all of us. It’s really nice to have these conversations and support from other moms with similar goals. We’re all different and each one of us makes our own personal decisions, but it’s wonderful to share our opinions and information with each other and learn through that process. I know it makes me a better mom and wife and I thank you for that! : )

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar

      Thank you so much for reading and for your very kind and thoughtful words. I agree, respectful conversations help us all learn and I always appreciate different perspectives shared thoughtfully 🙂

  4. Anya Avatar

    This hits the nail on the head! Exact reasons why I am extremely careful what I post. You mentioned scrapbooks though, would this be the “traditional” scrapbooks that we are all familiar with or the new photo Books? My concern with photo books is the same as social media, really. But they are such an easy and convenient way to make “scrapbooks”.

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar

      I do use one of the photo companies to print photo books for our kids each year but don’t make sure that the account is very secure and the photos are not public at all…

  5. Mandy Avatar

    I’m definitely on your side of that debate. I do not have social media accounts, and neither does my husband or our kids. The kids aren’t allowed to and are often told of the dangers associated with internet communication. Most parents call us over protective, but that’s alright. Also, I just don’t care that much about everyone’s every aspect of life, nor do they mine. We also don’t sign releases for photos to be shared at school but are getting ready to start homeschooling so that won’t be an issue. Our family knows not to share pictures of our kids and we really stay on top of that. As always, great post!

  6. Tiffany Avatar

    I can’t argue with any of your points. And I appreciate the time and thought you and you husband spent to come to this decision. My problem is… the *only* reason I, or any of my family, use social media is to share pictures and stories. None of us would use Facebook etc without them. But I do get it, I often think of unintended eyes that may be perusing our lives. Conflicted :/

    1. Janet Avatar

      One option to consider might be using a more private online venue for sharing pictures. My husband and I have a basic Smugmug account that we share only with close friends and family (we pay a little bit for the account, but those we share with don’t have to pay to access the albums). They still have the ability to comment, but there aren’t the same privacy concerns as with using Facebook (e.g. facial recognition and ever changing privacy policies). It’s a good way to keep extended family from posting to more public social media as well since they can add in photos for sharing. It does cost a little, but in our opinions, it’s money well spent for the extra privacy.

    2. Chris Avatar

      Same here, most of our family is out of state, there are privacy steps you can take that only allow you and that specific person to view a specific video or picture. I respect those who chose not to though. It’s very much a personal choice and I do believe that bad or humiliated picture and stories should never be posted. We might share class picture type photos or special occasions and accomplishments. I did have an occasion where someone was trying to steal my photos to share with their part of family, fb is very good at deleting pictures that don’t have permission to be shared of that I’m thankful of.

  7. Nicole Avatar

    You’re not alone, Katie. I share pretty much all your concerns, considerations, and perspectives here. It’s a philosophy very similar to my own and one I hope to maintain despite “external pressures”.

  8. marie Avatar

    Thank you thank you thank you!!! Agree 100%!!!!!! Even 10 years ago most people would have been insulted and felt uncomfortable if a person they had met once began commenting, face to face, on what they ate for dinner the night before, or how cute their baby looked at the beach naked. It is NO different! I think if people thought about actually saying or sharing the things they share online, in person, they would Not say or share it….they would probably be creeped out by the thought! Thank you for being an awesome example! FYI I am a FB generation girl. I choose not to get too involved.

  9. Tonya Avatar

    Thank you for sharing this. I feel the same way. My girls are near adulthood and *if* they choose to post pictures of themselves, that is their choice – not mine. Any images of my children that I’ve posted have been blurred, from their back, masked in some way or from when they were infants. I feel so very strong about this that I don’t even use their names when sharing something about them. I use online pseudonyms and I’m so grateful that friends have chosen to respect that and not “uncover” them publicly.

  10. Jana Avatar

    My husband and I agree with this 100%. We just had our first baby a year ago and we decided before he was born we would not be sharing about him online for all the reasons you cite. In fact, we haven’t had any social media accounts of our own open in about 5years. However, we’re finding it VERY difficult to keep aunts and uncles from taking pictures and posting them on their accounts. It always happens when we’re out of the room, like if they’re babysitting for a bit. We’ve even talked with them all on several different occasions to ask them to please not share his pic or even name online. We’ve found out from grandparents who have social media that they are not honoring our requests. What do we do?? I’m getting exasperated with it

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar

      That is really tough… we’ve been lucky that out family has been pretty respectful of our wishes in this, but it did take quite a few conversations and reminders with some of them…

      1. Iliana Avatar

        Though I loved this post, respect your opinion and celebrate your decision, I would like to say what a sad commentary that people have to judge and insult you and bully so you felt that an explanation was in order.
        Having said that, the fact that you have have so well shared and addressed all those point, will be a big help for other young parents to consider these things. It is thought provoking and could be empowering to many.

      2. Joey Avatar

        My daughter is turning one soon (only child so far), and you have given me much to think about. I fully agree with a person’s right to choose their own social media involvement. We have relatives and friends that live away, so I have become pretty used to sharing the love for our baby girl on Facebook & instagram, but there definitely isn’t any reason I can’t just text photos instead. I want my daughter to feel like she has a say. I’m thinking of cutting back after her first birthday and asking the relatives to not post as well. Thank you so much for sharing your perspective, you raise some great points and this is very much a topic worth thinking through for the little ones!

    2. Linda Avatar

      You are faced with a difficult situation when family members fail to respect your personal wishes and there comes a time when you have to stop being polite. Social Media sites do have privacy policies that deal with situations like yours. For example on Facebook the following link explains how to report a published photo or video that violates the privacy your children. :
      ” If your child is under 13: If you’d like to request the removal of an image of your child aged under 13, please fill out this form.
      If your child is between 13 and 17 years old: While we understand your concern as a parent, unfortunately we can’t take action on behalf of your child if they are over 13, unless they are mentally or physically unable to report this to us themselves. We encourage you to talk to your teen about this issue and help them submit their own request to have this content removed. You can learn more about keeping your kids safe on Facebook by visiting our Safety Center. ”

      I am sure that having their image posts taken down will demonstrate how serious you are about the matter.

      Many countries have existing legal requirements concerning privacy including that which pertains to children. The following link explains what applies to the publication of images of children in Australia:

      Perhaps forwarding a link to, or getting them to read, this particular post might help them understand why you have requested their cooperation in this matter.

      1. Jana Avatar

        Thank you so very much, Linda, for that information and the links. I will certainly be looking into that further and hoping I can accomplish it without having any Facebook, Instagram, etc. accounts of my own.
        And good luck to you, Allyson and Jayne, and anyone else in the same boat! Thank you for your encouragement!

    3. Allyson Brandt Avatar
      Allyson Brandt

      We had some MAJOR family fights about this when my son was born. We had some family members who thought it was their right to post pics and info on their SM accounts. We had to take a hard line and when they stopped following our wishes, they stopped getting photos and the opportunity to take his picture. It was really, really hard…but ultimately you have to put your foot down. They’ll eventually come around. Good luck!

    4. Jayne Avatar

      As I get ready to welcome my first child into the world, that’s been a big controversial topic for extended family and some friends of mine. I’ve preventively informed everyone that I am not giving them permission to post any photos of my child online. I had a family member say that I can’t control
      This, and my response was that I can control who is around my child and takes photos of them. I know it sounds harsh, but I truly believe that it is my right as a parent to not give permission for photo sharing, and if a relative cannot respect my wishes (they DON’T have to agree with my decision) they will not have the right to be around my child alone. 99% of family and friends agree to respect our choice, so I don’t anticipate much push back or conflict. But my question is, legally, can a person get in trouble for publically posting a photo of a child or even adult without their permission? As a parent, photo releases have to be signed at day cares, camps etc. for photos to be taken. Is the same right of a parent to refuse a relative from posting a photo also not a similar legal argument?
      I’m asking out of genuine curiosity, as I am clueless in the legal regard!

      1. Linda Avatar

        The precise details vary from country to country but in some instances, yes, the individual can get into trouble. On the whole there is no law against publishing a photograph taken in and of anyone in any public place where photography is allowed but where an individual might expect privacy eg on private property, it is a different matter.

        More so there is a legal obligation for organisations and internet sites to ensure that anything published is above board. Particularly on-line, this information will normally be found in their terms & conditions or policy documents and legitimate organisations will remove not only the image but also the accounts of repeat offenders.

        As an example of how serious governments believe the issue, in the US, in 2010 Georgia passed a bill (now under review) that makes it illegal for anyone but a parent to photograph or videotape a minor. New Jersey started investigation to implement a similar ruling in 2011.

    5. kellie Avatar

      you need to tell them in no uncertain terms that this is NOT to happen! if i had to tell them more than twice, they wouldnt be “babysitting” anymore. fortunately i am not afraid to tick someone off, even relatives, when it comes to my child. it is in no way, shape, or form, their place to make that decision for YOUR kids. youve told them more than once apparently, so at this point they either dont care what you say about it, or they are lacking in comprehensive skills. either way….., not meaning to offend, but you know?

    6. Monica Avatar

      I am so sorry your relatives are disrespecting you. I have had relatives disrespect me and the choices my husband and I make for our family in other ways. And, as sad as it is, I have had to put serious boundaries in place around these people, because my responsibility to my husband and kids is first priority. An example was one situation where a relative did not honor the rules I specifically gave him for my kids around the river. I had left my kids in his care and he did not follow my river rules. Thankfully the kids are still safe and sound, but he did put them in a situation that could have ended badly. From that day forward, I no longer leave my kids in his care. I’ve also had to realize that it doesn’t really matter what other people think of me and the choices I make. My responsibility is to do right by my kids to the best of my ability. I think if it was me in your situation, I wouldn’t leave my kids alone with people who weren’t willing to respect my wishes. It shows a fundamental problem with the relationship. It might feel a bit harsh, but I thought I’d throw it out there as something to think about.

  11. Moriah Avatar

    I am SO GLAD you had the courage to post this – you hit the nail on the head. This exactly what I needed as, try as I may, to explain to my husband why I don’t want our *future* kids on Facebook or any other media site, I just couldn’t find the right way, without sounding totally off my rocker. I believe that we are not just raising kids, we are raising future spouses, kid inlaws, morale members of society and it will be so hard for them to start a life to be proud of if we have already dirtied the water so to speak with all isolated, out of context things of childhood. They are not here soley for our enjoyment (though it definitely is a nice by product!), we are here for their protection.
    Thank you!!!

  12. Sara Avatar

    I do not share about my children or myself either…in fact, I choose to not have a FB or any other social media! Talk about being “odd-man out” ?

    1. Cori Avatar

      Same here!! You’re not odd! My husband and I deleted ours when we were engaged about 4 years ago! Loving it since, makes life so much simpler 🙂

  13. Jacquelyn Avatar

    YES YES AND YES to all of this! I don’t post pictures or the name of my baby on my blog, and recently decided to stop posting anything on my private social media accounts. If friends and family want pictures, it’s through text or email. I struggled with this decision before she was born but soon afterwards a friend posted a pic of my baby and hashtagged it, and I started getting a bunch of random friend requests. I immediately asked her to take it down and that’s when I decided NO pictures of my children online. Each month I print out my favorite pictures so that she can have a real photo album in the future, just like we do.

    The only thing I struggle with now is people who want to take pictures of my baby with their kids at playgroups, or at mommy & me groups for advertising on the business’s Instagram, e.t.c. I don’t want to be THAT mom guarding every little thing but I really don’t feel comfortable with this, and it’s happened multiple times already. Do you say something if other people do this with your children, or do you just let it go?

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar

      I don’t allow that either and also don’t sign photo releases at kids activities. It is a pain and I feel bad sometimes, but it seems crazy to let someone else post pictures of my kids when I wouldn’t do it myself.

      1. Patti B. Avatar

        When I take pictures with other children (not my own) I DO NOT post them anywhere- without the parents permission. Even then- I am cautious because it is risky and not needed. I would never just post a picture without asking!! Anyways, you are so right about this. I have grown up children who make their own decisions about social media. My son voluntarily resigned his social media accounts recently because he didn’t like the atmosphere/distraction.

        1. Michelle Avatar

          Oh, thank you so much for asking people before you post! People just assume everyone is on Instagram, and that it’s ok to post anything. I found that out the hard way when a friend posted a photo of me and her and my family (including my minor child) on Instagram without asking. Since I don’t have an account I didn’t even know. Then a mutual friend approached me saying it looked like we had fun. I asked her what she was talking about, then how she knew, and was so shocked. I had to tell my friend we don’t want any of our photos, especially of our child, posted on ANY social media. But I am still surprised that people will do that without asking. In my opinion, it’s so very RUDE and invasive to do that. I am so offended by people that act like I’m a freak about it too, when they really are invading my family’s privacy and all I’m asking is that they NOT do that!!! Thank you Katie for this post!

      2. Kate Avatar

        Here’s another thing that drives me nuts: people taking pictures of my child at a park. I’m a little wide, so normally I just put myself between the photographer and my children. It’s kind of comical when I start shuffling back and forth to keep myself between them and the person careening for a better angle. Luckily, I have friends who feel the same. At the beach one of my friends charged up to a guy and chewed him out for taking pictures of our girls playing in the surf. He denied he was taking photos of them so my friend insisted he give her the camera to look for herself…and he did! She verified he had actually been taking a really cool picture of a seagull flying through a wave…..lol! None the less she has my eternal respect as a fearless momma bear.

        1. Giorgia Avatar

          This sounds a little over the top. Nobody is taking pictures of your children, most likely they are taking pictures of the surroundings and your children happen to be there. I’m sure that it has happened at least once that you have photographed a tourist attraction and in the picture you see some strangers who just happened to be there.
          Once we are in public we surrender our right to “privacy ” and anyone can take a picture of us, it’s totally legal.
          By the way, I put the word privacy between inverted commas because it becomes a real privacy issue only when your name (and other personal information) are associated to your picture, which can be easily avoided by not using social media (that’s what I do, and I agree 100% with the article).

          1. Kate Avatar


            When a photog has a lens right in my child’s face and upon being confronted and politely asked to stop, they refuse and site public domain, there’s no question this is what’s going on. You are correct, it is totally legal which is why we need legislation that will protect minors from such overly aggressive adults who refuse to respect a child’s privacy. Children shouldn’t be forced to flee from a play structure at a park because some creep decides he wants pictures.

            I’m happy that this hasn’t happened to you and your children and I hope it never does, because it is really no fun.

          2. Sara Avatar

            Exactly! If you go to a mall or walking outside, security cameras are taking videos of you…has anyone thought of that? Maybe even your top button was undone at the grocery store, but you have no control of it. While if you are posting pics of yourself, you can cut things out, telltale signs.
            If your kid in in group activities, someone has a pic of your child…maybe several. I just happened to meet this person who happened to be a professional photographer and pics of my kid playing was on the website. ..
            Most daycares and schools have pic day, those pics are posted on the photographer’s Web page. …even film rolls from back in the days were duplicated and passed around. ..it is inevitable. I have family all over the world and i take pics of my daughter and want to post so my family can see but nowadays kids want to be in the pic, photobom …well, i am still going to post the pic…who told your child to get in the frame. ..
            Identify theft was happening waaay before social media. Did you not know that the phone book had your full name and address listed and passed around to everyone? Scammers called using phone books. You had to pay extra in order to not be listed…
            Do you not realize that most schools and daycares post pics of kids to their website….
            My crazy neighbor used to film me doing yard work, my kid was there with me and the cop said, aint nothing he can do….
            And life goes on…

          3. Deb Avatar

            Yes Giorgia, I totally agree. I think some people assume everyone is more interested in their lives and children than they really are. I have had an experience of taking pictures of an attraction in a foreign country. All of a sudden a couple comes flying at me all mad that I would take their picture! I was thinking “Wow, what an inflated view of themselves thinking that I would want a picture of them at all”. I didn’t even see them standing there when I took the picture. Anyways, I think this is a great article and even though I post pics of almost all the family activities we do, I completely respect someone else’s choice not to. ?

      3. erin Avatar

        I recently opted out of several, too. And I know my decision was probably considered odd and over-protective. But I had already come to the same conclusions you have about sharing info about my children online. It’s still a new and changing world, and I’m hedging my bets. I appreciate your post and will be sharing it in order to help others understand why I do (or, rather, don’t do) what I do online. Thanks!

      4. Julia Avatar

        How would you handle it if friends/family posted pictures of your kids without your permission or even your knowledge? I have been scrolling through and come across pictures of my kids (including a birth announcement of my daughter when my husband and I didn’t even post anything – pictures we had taken and shared with family via text). I don’t know why someone would think that’s okay and I don’t know how to prevent it. Family and friend know we don’t post on social media but somehow this often gets overlooked or forgotten.

        1. Wellness Mama Avatar

          I would ask them to take it down as I didn’t give them permission to post pictures of my children. Facebook has a policy where you can request removal of images of your children, I think.

          1. Julia Avatar

            I will have to look into that! I was not aware of that feature! I just get so tired of having that conversation! I wish they would just remember and respect our wishes not to! Thanks!

      5. bre Avatar

        I am struggling with my child’s school right now. For online registration I am unable to opt out of them using my child’s face on social media. When I called they said I am the only one who has said anything but that I could write a letter requesting they not use the images of my child. The online registration is a legal document and I refuse to click “yes.” It is so difficult to be a difficult parent!

    2. Tamie Avatar

      As a mother of 5, I totally respect your decision and actually feel the same. I don’t post many pictures of my kids or give much info about them either for the same reasons.

  14. Tanya S Avatar

    First of, I’ve said (typed) it before and I’ll do it again…you rock! Second of all, no posting here on my kiddos (except when my 16 yr old got her license)…I have about 6 friends on my FB account due to reasons for homeschool and church (and the Truth About Cancer Group)…in our home…my husband isn’t a FB fan and therefore we only use it for specific purposes, not social networking. My sis in law recently razzled me again about “not accepting her as my friend” and she added “it’s not 1916, it’s 2016” in regards to her brother calling the shots on FB. I actually like the little pics that show up on the comments ppl write on your blogs but when I read about it on your new year changes and how to make an account for my pic to show (i forgot what it’s called) I realized it just shares too much info about me and I opted out…hence the Wellnessmama icon for my pic. You not only take the time to help us mama’s in need for meal ideas and important health info but you also take time out of you day to respond to your followers on things like this…the rude comments make to you disgust me. So glad you can shrug them off! Thanks for your time and effort!

    1. Kelly K. Avatar

      Thanks for the post wellness mama, I appauld all the mothers {and fathers} that protect their children from the so-called social network. Hopefully other parents reading this blog will find wisdom & compassion in your words regarding the privacy & safety of children and be more conscientious with postings in the future.
      Hi Tanya S.
      interesting to see you have a {the truth about cancer group}. That’s awesome! hopefully it’s the honest to goodness real truth about cancer, the facts “they” try so aggressively to keep from the public. The fact that cancer is preventable & is curable. My mother was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and feared the treatment
      mainstream had to offer {besides the less than 5% survival rate statistic that came with it.} Instead she decided on using the Gerson Method at home and totally recovered 100% cancer free in less than 3 month. The cost was basically nothing, just the cost of a good juicer, and her regular grocery money was instead spent on organic veggies & fruits. {& organic coffee for the liver cleansing} She is now healthy strong & vibrant with absolutely no fear of relapse because she was smart enough and lucky enough to find the truth and brave enough to follow her gut instinct to regain her health as nature intended.

      1. Nona Avatar

        My late brother was given less than two years to live, courtesy of an inoperable brain tumor.

        He went on the Gerson diet (even traveling to Mexico for his initial treatment at the clinic). He lived nearly 14 years after the diagnosis.

  15. Lea Avatar

    Katie, this is an excellent and thought provoking list. I don’t do any social media period for 2 reasons, this being #1. It didn’t hurt none of us not to have it growing up and won’t kill us now to limit it either! I believe social media to be the new TV. It’s has to have limits somewhere, and if our kids know we are making these decisions because we love them, that’s all that matters!
    Thanks for being so real. Hope you can withstand the hate mail…or hurry and have that baby so you’ll be too busy to notice ?

  16. Kate Avatar

    Congratulations! And Amen, to not over sharing about children! Internet security is an oxymoron.

    1. nat Avatar

      Thank you, I get strange looks wen people find out I’m not on Facebook, I don’t want anything to do with it. My family and friends all know this and never post photos of me or my children.

      1. Sarah Avatar

        I, too, get strange looks when people find out I am not on facebook. I get haggled by family arguing that they don’t get to keep up with my day-to-day life. It is shameful that social media has replaced telephone calls, “snail mail” and simple text messaging with family. It can be an awesome means to staying in touch, but it can also be a route to laziness. My mother doesn’t udnerstand when I ask her not to post pictures of me and my family online, stating that she wants other to be able to share in her joy, which is us/my family. I understand and appreciate this, but there is a lack of respect involved after I have asked her to refrain because of my personal beliefs. This article was a delight to read. Just like many online who post to “follow the trend,” we who chose not to for many reasons such as Wellness Mama has outlined, sometimes need reassurance as well 🙂

        1. Danielle Avatar

          Wow do we have the same mother? Mine is in her late 60s and constantly posting about my life on social media. She shares all of my photos and I’ve never really been able to articulate why that bothers me. But you’ve nailed it: it’s the lack of respect. And I agree with your comments about social media being the lazy way to communicate. I’ve recently taken to sending snail mail again.

        2. Hollie Avatar

          Yes, the hardest part about holding this stance on social media, is asking others to honor it. Some people think it’s so unfair I ask them not to share. What’s unfair is the lack of respect for my husband’s and my choice to guard our child from social media until he can decide for himself. Being the experiment generation of the internet, chat rooms, social media, there are a lot of moments I look back on and wish I had guarded myself better.

          1. Jess Avatar

            This is the issue I’m having as well that made me look for an article like this. I’m currently pregnant and me and my husband have made the decision to not post ANYTHING about our little one on social media for much of the same reasons in this blog. We do not post personal stuff of our selves so why post it of our little one. And we do not feel it is safe and most importantly not our decision to make. It is theirs. The issue I am having is that my mother doesn’t understand at all and she thinks it is unfair for me to not let her “brag” about her grandchild to her friends on fb and I have told her over and over why we feel this way and that we are not going to change our minds and she tells me that I am upsetting her. And she brings the conversation up like once a week or so as if ive suddenly changed my whole views on the topic. Does anyone have advice on how to better handle this situation and get her to understand why I feel this way.

          2. Poppi Avatar

            You have to stick to your boundaries, on anything you value. Her issue over the sharing online and how she can’t let it go, and just share with people via email, shows she lacks respect for your freedom of choice and your boundaries period. My mom has bothered me and shamed me about some of my personal choices that differed from hers. I actually cut her off for a month it got so bad. I told her I would be happy to reconnect as soon as she could tell me she would accept my different choice. She eventually did, and has gained a new respect for my boundaries in the proces. We are in good terms now.

    2. Theresa Avatar

      I didn’t post much about my last child online because I don’t believe in over exposure and humility. Now that she is in high school she is allowed FB but everyone scrutinizes her posts for her protection. She is Never allowed to use her real name or birthday on any social media. This isn’t full proof, but I bare the responsibility to teach what can happen and does but allowing her to experience it. We have tons of security blocks and she does not have phone. Tooooo many parents post young kids online!

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