You'll Never See My Kids' Faces Online – Kveller
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You’ll Never See My Kids’ Faces Online

At least I think so.

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Call me a parenting cliché, but it’s true: There’s no sight I love more in the world than that of my children’s faces. After they go to sleep, I sometimes spend hours scrolling through my camera roll, overwhelmed with the most all-encompassing love.

And yet, despite the fact that I think they’re the best pictures in the world (I mean, not technically, my composition could definitely use some work) I don’t share those images online.

When my first child was born, despite feeling utterly overwhelmed by both his birth and how thoroughly enamored I was with this tiny new being, my husband and I had the talk that many modern parents have: “Do we share images of our child on social media?” We went back and forth and decided that the answer was no, at least for now, and we would reconsider down the road. We were then each tasked with sharing that temporary directive with our families and loved ones.

And then, something happened that really cemented the decision for me — someone shared a picture of my child from his bris online. I was already emotionally overwrought, but that not at all ill-intentioned post made me feel what it was like to have an image shared without consent. And it really shook me. It made me think of what that would feel like for my kids, if they grew up and found images of themselves, their childhood’s intimate moments, forever alive on the internet without them approving of them. I couldn’t do it.

Since then, the only pictures I’ve shared of my children are ones where their faces are completely obscured, and even those are far and few — and mostly on my Instagram stories, where they immediately disappear. I do share photos of my kids with relatives overseas through a private app.

As a fairly private person on social media (and an oversharer here, so I suppose it evens out), I’ve become even more guarded throughout the years. I didn’t even share my second pregnancy, or the birth of my second child, in any public way.

I know there’s a price I’m paying here. I don’t get to share and celebrate my kids on social media with friends and acquaintances. I don’t get to share funny moments or milestones in a public way. And who knows, maybe my kids will resent me for not proudly sharing their likeness and having fun comments to read back on when they grow up. On the flipside, my children could be resentful of me sharing things about them in writing. I just don’t know.

I do know that I’m a bit of a hypocrite, because I genuinely relish seeing the pictures my friends and acquaintances (and yes, even strangers) post of their kids. I love seeing cute chubby-faced babies on tummy time mats; I love the darling photos of kids holding those first day of school signs (and am jealous of parents who remember to get those and make them happen); I love seeing a well-executed family photoshoot (in fact, I think my family is long overdue for one, even if it won’t be shared online). And I don’t feel like my decision not to share my kids online is better than their decision to share theirs. I just know that it’s still a pretty firm line for me.

I could probably write 50,000 more words on the topics of sharing our children’s images online and their right to privacy. I obsessively watch news about former children of YouTube parents and reality TV stars who bemoan how living in the public eye made them feel. I know there’s a difference between documenting your child’s every move on video and sharing an image of your kid at the local apple orchard.

I think some of my fears are rational, and others aren’t. And I know that there’s no real right answer here. Just me wading through parenthood.

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