If you read my baby-related posts or follow my in social media, you must have noticed that I don’t post photos of my daughter anywhere. Why? I’ll explain it in this post.It’s a huge problem that kids spend too much time in front of the computer screen and a lot of their social life is happening in social media. Countless researches have been made about the fact that kids know less and less about how to communicate face-to-face, they are getting more isolated and due to less face-to-face contact, their relationships are less meaningful. Nowadays Facebook has such a huge role in people’s lives that what is not posted on Facebook didn’t even happen, and if you don’t have a Facebook account, it’s like you don’t even exist. We are worried about our children’s internet and social media usage habits. But who is responsible for the first digital footprints of our children? We, the parents. As soon as a child is born, the parents post his or her photo, name, birth weight and what not to Facebook. From the moment they are born, we plant the idea of having to be present on a social media platform, so we shouldn’t be surprised when a five-year-old child whines to have a Facebook account of their own.
My husband and I posted some of our wedding and holiday photos. Before sharing a photo, we discussed if the other one was okay with sharing that particular photo going online. It’s me in the photo, it’s my decision, my responsibility. When I got pregnant we agreed not to share the news of my pregnancy or Janka’s birth on Facebook. A newborn can’t decide whether he/she wants to be on the Internet or not and we would post photos of her when she’s older or understands what it means to be online – in any form. Why? Because we didn’t want to expose the most precious and vulnerable part of our lives to public attention.
A couple days after Janka’s birth, one of my hospital roommates was arguing with her husband on the phone (“Why is it that photo that you uploaded to Facebook?”), while another fellow mother was also on the phone, discussing with her partner which photo they should share on the social media site. Geez… These kids are only a couple of days old and their parents are already arguing about which photo of them they should share. Of course, the first photo is critical because this is what gives the first impression about your child anyway. Poor child has just been born and he is already exposed to this silly compulsion to conform. I’ve been taking Janka to swimming classes since she was four months old. A few of us get into the water a few minutes before the class begins. I realized: there are two types of mothers. The first type is the one who gets into the pool, plays with her baby or they swim to other babies and make friends. The second type is the one who gets into the pool with her baby in one hand and her smart phone in the other hand and takes selfies. And of course everything goes to Facebook right away. A few weeks ago, after one of the classes we were in the locker room and one of the mothers wanted to make her about one-year-old son to sit still as she wanted to take photos of him with her phone. Though she asked him several times, the little boy wouldn’t sit still, so the woman said: “You’re a bad baby!” I couldn’t believe my ears. Bad baby? What an expression is it by the way? And why is he “bad”? Because his mom couldn’t take a proper photo of him, that she could share on the Internet? Is this “bad” behaviour in our modern society? What the world thinks about us is freaking important and it’s also important to get as many likes as possible. And here we are at the thing that drives me nuts.
Namely, that a lot of mums flood Facebook with the photos of their kids. As if they were bragging with having a kid – as if they were those selected few who are able to reproduce. Ten photos a day of the sleeping child. Wow! He’s opened his eyes! His entire head is covered in baby food – how cute is that – a photo of the kid wearing a diaper only, bathtime photo – because it’s important to make sure half of the world sees our naked child – and what not. An aquitance of mine put a pair of headphone onto her baby’s head, took a photo of him with this comment: “DJ Poop”. Seriously… In 10-12 year’s time, when that child is on the threshold of adolescene, his buddies will jerk him around if they see that photo with that text (because at that age, he and his friends will have Facebook, won’t they?). If the fact that many children aren’t taught to use the internet safely wasn’t enough, there are also the parents who don’t set a positive example and post everything about their childre excessively. And there come the stories that go viral about poor XY who posted a photo of her baby and some jerks commented that the child was ugly or they discovered the symptoms of some disease on the child. On a forum thread, I once read that a mother shared a photo of her baby and somebody commented that the kid had Down syndrome and the mother became desperate, of course, because how it was possible that neither a doctor in the hospital, nor the child’s paediatrician at the monthly check-ups noticed that poor kid had such a condition. Eventually, it turned out that the child was totally health, luckily. Someone wanted to jerk the mother around. A lot of your friends might find your baby cute but even one such turd can cause serious emotional damage. Do you really want to expose yourself and your child to this?
Nem beszéltünk még az internet egyéb veszélyeiről. Ha az elektronikus zaklatás nem lenne elég, ott vannak még egyéb tényezők is. Például nem szeretném, ha valaki töltené a gyerekem fotóit a Facebook oldalamról – vagy valamelyik ismerősöméről, aki lájkolta – és felhasználná. Ilyen történetből is rengeteg kering a neten. We haven’t talked about other dangers of the worldwide web. If cyberbulling wasn’t enough, there are other factors as well. For example, I don’t want my child’s photos to be downloaded from my Facebook account – or that of my acquiantances’ who liked the photo – by other people and use them.
What about those situations when grandparents share photos of your child? While the obstetrician was stitching me after the episiotomy, my husband left the delivery room to watch Janka as she was examined for the first time, bathed and dressed. Once everything was done, he took a photo of her. He sent it to our families and my father-in-law shared it on Facebook right away. As soon as my husband noticed it, he asked his father to remove the post. This led to an argument as my father-in-law didn’t understand why he wasn’t allowed to post whatever he wanted on his own timeline, why his friends couldn’t see it, etc. Of course, it’s his account, but it was our child in the photo. My husband and I made a decision to keep Janka’s photos away from social media. From any kind of social media and from anyone’s timeline. If you’re a grandparent, the rule applies. It doesn’t matter by whom it’s posted, once the child’s photo gets online it’s there and that’s it. I don’t trust in anyone’s privacy settings. An account can be hacked easily any time and strangers can have access to my kid’s photos. Who knows how my ‘friends” click or like and my child’s picture can get public. And then my efforts fail to protect her. I think it’s the parents own decision whether they want their children to appear in social media or not. It’s just as a question of presonal decision as have your daughter’s ears pierced, having your son circumsized or what principles you want to follow when raising your kid in general.
Yes, I’ll keep writing about Janka and hope that many of you will follow me on the journey of motherhood. Until I feel that Janka is old enough to appear online, there will be no photos of her and I’ll keep enjoying situations when I meet friends in person and they look at my daughter surprised and ask, “How come you have a baby? We didn’t see her on Facebook.”