Imagine never knowing that it’s little Tarquin’s first day of school, or that today, three weeks ahead of schedule, baby Amelie rolled over. Imagine being oblivious that handsome Bodie has chosen to spend his schoolies’ break volunteering in a Cambodian orphanage, rather than vomiting from a high-rise in Surfers.
Sounds heavenly, right?
If you are an oversharing parent, and itching with anxiety at the thought of your photogenic offspring never again being immortalised with a flattering Hefe filter, it’s time to panic.
Posting pictures of your children online is having a deeply unfashionable moment. And there is no bolder indication than that those bastions of understated style, the French, are close to criminalising it.
Soon, French parents could be prosecuted and fined for posting pictures of their children online. They could possibly go to prison. It’s an issue that the French police are taking seriously.
The Daily Mail reports:
In February, the French Gendarmerie (police) – concerned about the security of children – posted a message on Facebook, which read: ‘Please stop posting pictures of your kids on Facebook.’
‘Remember that posting pictures of your children on Facebook is not safe,’ it added. ‘It is important to protect the privacy of minors and their images on social networking sites.’
Lawyer Viviane Gelles told the UK Telegraph that under French law, “parents are responsible for protecting images of their children. We often criticise teenagers for their online behaviour, but parents are no better.”
Privacy is a hot-button issue. In a time when Apple won’t hand over a terrorist’s data to the FBI, and none of us is really sure who knows what about us. Parents are being accused of playing too fast and loose with their children’s faces, names, and personal details.
One expert says children could sue their parents for publishing photos of them when they were younger. Post continues after video…
The argument goes that little kids have no say in whether or not they become public figures. In the future, an employer could search for pictures of Ava and find that photo of her eating a backyard icecream in her Elsa swimmers. And there goes the Prime Ministership.
Yes, by sharing pictures of our little kids we are making a choice for them that they are not yet able to express for themselves. But aren’t we doing that every minute of every day, about everything?
Until our children have well-articulated thoughts on all sorts of things we make considered decisions on their behalf. From what they eat and wear to what school they go to and who they socialise with, until parents can be told otherwise – and convinced to listen – we make those calls.
The other concern writ large is that sinister forces stalk the web, and that those with dangerous and damaging intentions might steal photos of your children and look at them while thinking or doing something criminally lewd.
They might even doctor and share them.
When the latter happened to Roxy Jacenko recently, the lack of sympathy for the Sydney PR mogul was deafening. What did she expect? Who does she think she is? Didn’t she know that putting her daughter out there like that is dangerous? Come on.
It is true that, as Mamamia’s Mia Freedman said on The Project in the aftermath of the Roxy incident, once you post a photo online, you lose control over what happens to it and where it goes next. That’s something that, when you’re playing with the image of your child, is hard to stomach.
But when else are we so comfortable with advising that people change their behavior lest it lead to a crime being commited? The idea that it’s provocative to leave photos of children lying around on social media for a passing pedophile to pick up is akin to saying that the glimpse of a well-turned ankle is catnip to a rapist, and women should take responsibility for making sure no inch of them is seen, or bear the consequences.
It would be a tragedy if we had to airbrush children from society’s view in case some damaged criminal found them titillating.
Still, you ask, if sharing kiddie pics is so very frowned upon, why does your Facebook feed still look like the entry page for the Bonds baby beauty search?
It’s simple: Us parents can’t help ourselves.
For the parents of little children, the fact their kids are cute enough for Instagram is the only thing that keeps them online.
Our children are by far the most overwhelming thing that has happened to us lately. They’re photogenic, and as endlessly interesting to us as Kylie Jenner’s contouring skills are to Kylie Jenner. They go everywhere we go, other than the office, and they change every day. They also bind us tightly to a tribe of other, similarly obsessed parents.
While none of us are really looking very hard at pictures of other people’s children, we are entirely validated by knowing they are there, and that sometimes they draw on the walls, too. At grandma’s house. On her birthday.
The rules around sharing need to be rewritten to indulge those of us who are fence-sitting on privacy. They should go like this:
If your child has asked you not to share – don’t share.
If your child is naked, don’t share.
If the story you are telling right now casts your child in a damaging or embarrassing light, don’t share.
And everything else, check your privacy settings and go for your life.
There’s nothing women can gain by erasing children from our public life. The world needs to be reminded that we have them, and that caring for them takes discipline, and diligence and quite the truck load of time.
Which is why parents don’t have time for cat videos.