When my daughter was born, writhing and purple and looking more like a cross between Lord Voldemort and a plucked chicken than I cared to admit, her father grabbed the camera and started snapping away. First weigh in? Check. First bath? Check. First time popped on the breast and nursing away? Check.
And of course, without a seconds hesitation, all of these pictures went flying through the ether and up onto Facebook.
I was tagged. The grandparents on both sides were tagged. The aunts and uncles and cousins fairy Godparents were tagged. And… My daughter was tagged.
My daughter — a mere five minutes after emerging from the womb had a Facebook identity.
While she doesn’t have a Facebook account – yet – it doesn’t matter. Depending on the privacy settings, people will be able to see these pictures years to come. And while her family may think it’s like ZOMGGGG THE CUTEST THING EVAAAAHHHH!!!, what if she doesn’t?
And how about later? Will she want that “My daughter just went peepee in the potty for the first time!” picture up on Facebook? Will she want the picture where she is frolicking on the beach with her bare butt is winking at the sun floating around for everyone to see? Will she want that picture where her face is smeared in oatmeal resurfacing in 14 years when she starts 9th grade? Yeah, not so much.
And unless we stop tagging — nay, BRANDING — her name all over Facebook, I don’t care how awesome her self esteem is, the fact remains: She is going to kill us.
(Let’s be real. Wouldn’t we kill our parents if they had done this to us?)
All kidding aside, it all comes down to this: We could end up really hurting our kids by posting these “innocent” baby pictures. And being a teenager is heartbreaking enough when there aren’t naked pictures floating around the internet for everyone — and I do mean everyone — to see. And while it all seems perfectly harmless right now, it might not be. And whether it is, or isn’t, should we take that risk?
Look. I know this to be true: I do not want my sweet baby girl running home from 7th grade English class sobbing because the boy she likes happened to find that first bath picture with her legs akimbo. I do not want to see her face flushed in shame because her “friends” have gotten a hold of a potty picture her father or I thoughtlessly put up on our walls once upon a time.
Growing up in the internet age is going to be a challenge we must help our children navigate — and whatever we do, we shouldn’t make it harder for them than it already will be.