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Our children's right to privacy. Where do you draw the line?

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#1 AmityD

Posted 18 October 2011 - 01:27 PM

A pregnant performance artist is going to give birth live on stage later his month, as part of a work about childbirth. Marni Kotak will spend the rest of her pregnancy at the Microscope gallery in New York, until the baby arrives in a public display of ‘art’ titled ‘The Birth of Baby X.’

Wow, brave woman. As much as I wouldn’t have cared if all of New York had walked through the ward in the final pushing stages of my labours, I can’t imagine being too thrilled about being on display in those earlier, still coherent but not overly presentable, moments. But, each to their own. If Ms Kotak wants to make a public performance of her baby’s birth it should be her right, shouldn’t it?  

At least that’s what I thought until I started to read the online comments to the story, where many questioned what rights her baby has, if any, of it’s first moments in the world being publically broadcast.  Which got me thinking about our children’s rights to privacy in general and where each of us draw the line.

With the rise of ‘Mummy bloggers,’ Twitter and Facebook we are all sharing stories and pictures of our offspring more than ever. On hugely popular sites such as Dooce.com mothers write about the daily lives of their children, complete with photos, to an audience who lap it up, engaging with their stories and forming an emotional attachment to children they have never met. And closer to home many members on Essential Baby regularly write about the experiences of their children through their comments, photos and blogs.

As, of course, do I. My life has been a fairly open book to my followers on Essential Baby over the last four years, as have many of my children’s first experiences. However, over the years I have changed the way I write about them somewhat, when I became conscious that perhaps one day they wouldn’t want everything they did as babies to be shared with the world. But then, if I ever get too concerned about that I remind myself that they will be two of billions of other people who have had their whole lives documented since birth, so they’ll all be in the same basket!  

From photos of pregnant bellies and ultra sound scans, to the first happy snaps of a screaming baby entering the world, we naturally love to share the joy of parenthood with those around us. But for all those parents who love to show off photos of their kids, there are plenty who are far more wary and pedantically guard their children’s privacy, refusing to have any photos of them online at all.

I sit somewhere in the middle. Clearly I write about my kids on EB and I have done many public photo shoots with them throughout their lives. But I also mostly keep my online pictures of them to my personal Facebook site, rather than my public one, and I try not to write about things I think they would one day have an issue with. Me writing about their refusal to sleep through the night, or throwing a ripper toddler tantrum won’t exactly make them special or unique amongst their peers in future years, so I think I’ll be ok.

And as far as MY experiences of motherhood and pregnancy go, well they are my stories to share and I will continue to be as honest and authentic about them as I can be. I believe one of the best things to come out of the new online world is the knowledge that we all go through the same struggles and joys as each other. And experiences shared make for a less daunting and isolating time for all of us.

I also don’t want to let the fear of the lurking predator impact on everything I do. I was at my nieces netball game recently, where my father in law was told he was not allowed to take photos of the game in an attempt to protect the children’s privacy. That makes me incredibly sad, and angry. What has the world come to when a proud grandfather can’t take a photo at a public sporting game?

The dangers are ever present, no doubt. And we do need to protect our children, but for each of us that means a different thing. So for those of you out there, where do you draw the line? Do you write about and post photos of your kids or keep their stories and images off the net all together? And what do you think our children will make of their online lives being so well documented in the future? Or will they be so busy trashing their own reputations with Facebook updates of teenage misadventures that a few embarrassing baby photos will be the least of their worries?!

#2 joy07

Posted 18 October 2011 - 01:48 PM

I enjoy your articles Amity.  Good questions.  We do not share photos of our children anywhere on the internet. This might change a little soon.

I think they probably will be caught up in their own internet worlds, but I think we need to be a bit careful that you can't just google their name and up pops many images or writings about them.

We do not give our real names these days and haven't for many years. We don't want search engines picking them up.

It really is kind of like a history journal that we are all creating on the internet, isn't it. Instead of in photo albums or with the hand written words in journals or letters.

#3 flakyfish

Posted 20 October 2011 - 10:24 AM

I try not to post anything about my child online. My husband and i believe that once something is posted on facebook or a public forum, that information is essentially available to anyone, and we're not comfortable with that.

When i gave birth, we did not post anything on facebook, we told everyone by SMS or phonecall. I only shared photos with people via email or sms and asked people not to post them on facebook.

Perhaps we're over cautious, but i think it's better to be safe than sorry. It should be my son's choice when he is older as to what information is publicly available about him. The only information about him on the internet is his first name and date of birth, and even those are on restricted access pages.

On the other side of the coin, i do enjoy reading about other people's children and what they are going through (I love 'parenting with crappy pictures!') and i think it has a valuable role to play in increasing awareness and educating new parents.

I agree it's a hard line to balance, and we have probably chosen an overly strict (i.e. paranoid!) approach. However, we have the choice to relax our stance in the future, whereas people who have started out sharing everything will probably find it harder to change or undo it.

#4 FeralCrazyMum

Posted 20 October 2011 - 10:29 AM

I don't post anything online that I would think DS would ever be embarrassed/ashamed about. So there's pictures of him on Facebook (with privacy restrictions) but no bath photos, etc.

I'm not a believer in posting pics of every minute online anyway.

#5 matt1972

Posted 20 October 2011 - 10:32 AM

Funny how after 2 days there hasn't been a single comment in here from anyone with a sig that contains photos of their kids.

#6 missgeorgina

Posted 20 October 2011 - 10:33 AM

I don't really see the issue about posting pictures of your children.  Why wouldn't you want to post photos of your child on FB or the web?

#7 ComradeBob

Posted 20 October 2011 - 10:34 AM

I draw the line at anything which could conceivably be posted on STFU Parents  laugh.gif

I put photos of DD on FB but not that often.  And when I do, I make sure they're cute and clothed. No nudity, nothing she'd be embarrassed about in the future. She'd better not be embarrased about that Clash hoodie, anyway!

On FB I also use a version of my name that is not in common usage, which seperates me online from me IRL. When DD  is older, I'll recommend she does the same.

#8 Taffabella

Posted 20 October 2011 - 11:33 AM

I refuse to post photos of my DD online and although my hubby doesn't agree with me, he has not posted any photos of her either.

Whilst there are no photos of DD up online, I will occasionally write about her progress in my FB status update (oh "DD" just woke up with two teeth, that's a total of 4 now) - the kind of things I would like to remember but she would not necessarily be fussed over when she gets older.

#9 flakyfish

Posted 20 October 2011 - 01:31 PM

QUOTE (missgeorgina @ 20/10/2011, 11:33 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I don't really see the issue about posting pictures of your children.  Why wouldn't you want to post photos of your child on FB or the web?

Well, one reason we don't do it is that i don't post photos of anyone without their permission, as i think it's kind of rude to do so. When he's old enough to give permission (and understand the consequences of doing so), then it might be different.

Another reason, specific to FB, is that anything you post to FB can then be used by them.

(From FB terms and conditions - For content that is covered by intellectual property rights, like photos and videos (IP content), you specifically give us the following permission, subject to your privacy and application settings: you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (IP License). This IP License ends when you delete your IP content or your account unless your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it)

I just don't have enough confidence in FB (or any online site really) that my private information will remain private, so i strictly limit what i put on there.

As i said, we're probably on the extreme end of things, but it's just not something i am comfortable doing at this stage.

#10 opethmum

Posted 20 October 2011 - 01:42 PM

I am adamant that no photos of my daughter are shown on facebook unless I have specifically vetted them. I only have three up there and that is a photo of her as a newborn.
If she is in the background of any photos then I do not mind but I ask people to not tag her or make any reference to her presence at an event. I am not ashamed of my daughter but I think she has a right to privacy online. She has a right to dignity and respect and I am protecting her online reputation and I will guide and instruct her to have a positive reputation on the internet.

#11 jothogger

Posted 20 October 2011 - 05:44 PM

QUOTE (opethmum @ 20/10/2011, 02:42 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
If she is in the background of any photos then I do not mind but I ask people to not tag her or make any reference to her presence at an event.

Thanks PP for this. We don't put photos of our DD online either, but I've never been sure how to go about restricting other people putting up photos from events. I hardly want to keep DD out of the group photos, because we want her to feel a part of our extended family!

It seems fair enough that you say that photos with a baby in the background are not a big deal. I suppose in the end we don't want her to be searched for by her name, with tags and so forth.

Edited by aleithaki, 20 October 2011 - 05:46 PM.

#12 jessjess

Posted 20 October 2011 - 07:42 PM

I regularly update photos of my DS on FB. I have the strictest privacy settings, and only post photos that I feel are appropriate. I do feel we need to be cautious users of such social media and I get concerned by the younger users adding everyone and anyone as 'friends'. I also think it's a brilliant way to stay connected with family/friends living interstate/overseas and avoiding isolation. I think it's a balancing act.
On another note mentioned by Amity, my dad came to video my sister and I do our grading for kickboxing. It was a ladies class, but I was mortified for him when he was asked to leave in an obviously suspicious manner. It's a tough balancing act I think.

#13 Vulli

Posted 23 October 2011 - 10:11 AM

A friend on Fb has never shown her bub in photos and bub is about two now.

When my partner and I have kids Im pretty sure I wont post photos of them on the net, will mention them but yeah no pics original.gif

#14 Guest_Lois Griffin_*

Posted 23 October 2011 - 10:22 AM

I'm cautious about putting my kids pictures online. DH has Facebook but I don't and he is very careful with what photos he puts up.

In saying that though I love looking at the sigs here on eb.

#15 jellybean809

Posted 23 October 2011 - 10:26 AM

I don't have Facebook page and don't post pictures of me or my kids online.  It really annoys me when others do.

My DDs godmother posted heaps of photos of DDs Christening and I had no idea. She was surprised when I politely pointed put that I'm not on Facebook for a reason and could she take them down.

I value my privacy.  Not sure why I'm so hung up about it, but I am!

#16 jothogger

Posted 23 October 2011 - 10:32 AM

If I wasn't on Facebook at all, I'd be scared that people would put up photos without my knowledge.

The fact that I am on Facebook means I can police everything! It's also pretty obvious to people that we won't put photos of our baby up (because there's a very distinctive lack of photos). So they are getting the message not to put photos up themselves.

#17 Mummy Duck

Posted 23 October 2011 - 10:39 AM

What a great thread!

I agree no photos of my kids on open forums like this one.  I often look at sigs and think its unfair to show photos, names and ages. Especially with some of the content of the posts!!

I do have pics on my fb but that is with the tightest privacy settings so they are only available to my family/friends.

My 13yo son would be very miffed if I photos of him on a forum like this.

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