Scroll through my Facebook feed and it’s full of photos of kids. There are kids smiling. Kids making a mess in their high chairs. Kids celebrating their birthdays. I “like” them all, because, hey, they’re all adorable.
Scroll through the photos on my phone and it’s the same thing: My son smiling, making a mess in his high chair or celebrating his birthday.
Yet with a few exceptions, these photos rarely make it to my Facebook feed—or any of my other public social media accounts.
Obviously, I have the same panicky worries about online safety as every other parent. You never know who is lurking out there and, as a woman, I’ve crossed virtual paths with a few scary people on the Internet. So my hormonal mom brain went into overdrive when he was born (“No photos where you can see his face or identifying details about the hospital!”) even though, hello, I’m not Beyoncé.
But now that my hormones have calmed down—er, mostly—my 15-month-old son’s lack of a social media presence is more about his own autonomy. Quite simply, he can’t tell me to stop. He can’t say, “Take that down.” It doesn’t mean I’m not proud of him (I am), or think he’s adorable and fun (he is). But it’s his life I’m photographing. My job as his mom is to protect him and guide him, not exploit him for likes.
Of course, I’m talking about photos on public accounts. And I understand why posting photos online is attractive: These digital photos won’t ever fade or get destroyed and, with one tap, it’s easy to upload them from…