When it comes to sharing photos and videos of my daughter, how much is too much? Where should I draw the line?
I struggled with the answer to this question before I even became a parent.
Bloggers have done things that I think cross the imaginary line, and I think to myself, “I would never do that.” Some things have always been clear to me. I don’t show my daughter naked or in diapers. I won’t discuss potty training, medical information*, or anything that I wouldn’t want shared about myself. (*I do discuss her food allergy since I want to increase awareness).
Over the years, I have seen many individual bloggers make the transition into being a family blog. Usually, this decision is made shortly after bloggers become parents. This is where I think things get a bit muddy. I understand that diaper brands shell out the big bucks for content, but this website is my job, not my child’s.
Would my child prefer to have her college tuition completely paid for thanks to a bunch of sponsored content she starred in as a young child, or would she prefer her privacy? It might be easy to say they would prefer the financial stability, but, as someone who grew up at a time when the internet barely existed, I can’t imagine what it might be like if classmates find your embarrassing photos and videos online.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, I know parents who never show their child’s image online. I respect that. A child can’t consent to having their image shared, and it makes sense to give them total control over that decision.
I have always wanted to be somewhere in the middle. I want motherhood to be part of what I share, not the focus of my content.
When I opened up about my struggle with infertility, this community became a support system. I was suddenly connected to so many women with similar stories. It was clear that people were invested in my fertility journey. I was regularly getting messages from people checking in on me and wishing me the best. Once I got pregnant, it seemed natural to share my pregnancy journey and Gwen’s birth story.
In my mind, I follow a set of rules when I post images of my daughter and our lives. I have tried my best to never share anything that might be embarrassing for my child.
My husband has always been involved in the decisions about how much to share about our child online. One idea was to share content of Gwen as a baby, but to eventually phase her out of my content. Why? I want to find a balance between sharing my life with my community and giving my child privacy.
It’s hard to identify someone if you have only seen them as a baby. And if felt natural to share her photos during that time.
Over the summer, I started considering phasing Gwen’s photos out of my content. Then two things seemed to signal that the time had come. The first was when an acquaintance sent me an old photo of me and Gwen that they had on my phone. I didn’t know that the photo had been taken. Based on Gwen’s outfit and her age in the photo, it had been taken over a year ago. To me, it crossed a line. Why did this person think that it was ok to take a photo of us and keep it on her phone? Probably because I share our photos with the world on the internet.
Later that day, I noticed that a random Facebook follower re-shared photos of Gwen to their page. An odd move, and honestly something that I had never thought would happen.
I have always tried to consider Gwen’s point of view. When she is older, how will she feel about the photos and videos I have shared with the world? A recent Atlantic article discusses how some children prominently featured on their parents’ websites have become embarrassed of the content and how it has fractured their relationships with their parents.
Another interesting consideration is the fact that Illinois recently passed a law protecting the children of influencers. Under the new law, children featured in 30% of their parent’s content must be paid if certain earning thresholds are met.
But, I still wonder, does paying your children suddenly make it ok to exploit their image without their consent?
I am approaching this as someone who was a full-time blogger before becoming a parent. I am not relying on my child or my experience as a parent to create content. I have the immense privilege of being able to turn down projects from baby brands.
There are some fantastic bloggers and creators who share family content in ways that respect their children’s privacy. They have been a helpful resource to me as I navigate parenting. On the other side of the spectrum, there are some influencers who share embarrassing or shocking content about their children simply for attention or to increase views.
I see many sides to sharing your child’s image and your experience as a parent on the internet. It is my hope that everyone has what is best for their child in mind.
At this point, I’ve stopped publicly sharing new photos of my daughter’s face online. It is what feels best for me. I still post some Instagram Stories that don’t include her face. I try not to be awkward about it. She is the most important part of my life, so it would be weird to never show any glimpse of her life.
It is better to share less than to overshare, in my opinion. If something is online, it’s there forever. Even if you delete it, the way back machine might have a record of it, or someone may have taken a screenshot.
My family might change our minds about this policy in the future if our daughter wants to be included in my business. It will be her choice.