I've spent many of my kids' growing-up years working online, with the last few positively engrossed in social media, even more than the typical parent.
And while I've posted a few potentially mortifying photos of my children in the past, for the most part, I'm extremely careful about what pictures of my kids I put online -- whether it's on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or another site.
If only other parents would do the same. Here's why it bothers me so much.
Don't get me wrong. I'm often quite tempted to upload a photo of my cute kids in the bathtub (no questionable parts showing) or, better, when they're throwing a fit. And really, what parent hasn't snapped humiliating-yet-adorable shots of their kids?
But it's a whole other ballgame when parents take those photos and post them online, whether it's on a blog or a social media site for all their Facebook friends and Twitter and Instagram followers to see.
True, the kids aren't on those sites just yet. Many of them are mere babies and toddlers, so the first instinct is to not worry so much about it. Who knows what's going to happen in the next few years, let alone 10 when they're teenagers and can actually get online themselves?
But what people don't realize is that those photos are now floating around the web for anyone to find and screenshot. And that doesn't just worry me from a weirdo-pervert-stalker standpoint, which I actually think is pretty rare. I worry more for these kids when they grow up and all these pictures of them crying or doing something they might consider embarrassing are "out there" -- and they have no control over where they wind up or who sees them.
The instant nature of social media has certainly benefited many people, myself included; I make a living in large part thanks to that phenomenon.
But I'm concerned about the future, many years from now, when all our choices to post pictures for likes, shares, and retweets, not to mention the "viral potential," come back to bite us in the butt.
So many parents are so focused on the here and now that we often forget to think about tomorrow. Oh sure. We plan for college. We teach our kids skills they'll need when they're adults. But maybe it's time we start thinking about how our actions online are going to affect our children down the road. Parenting isn't what it used to be. It's about time we caught up.
Do you post embarrassing photos of your kids online?