I’m that paranoid mom, the one that grabs her children’s hands in the grocery store when you stop to comment about how cute they are. I’m the one that told old ladies “yes, you can look at my babies but you can’t touch them.” I’m the one that orders the “Child Safety Kit” online, so that I have their finger prints and pieces of their hair for DNA in case something happens. Yes, I’m also the one that doesn’t post pictures of my kids online.
I’m asked quite often why I don’t post pictures of my kids online, and rather than holding individual conversations with each person, I figured it might be easier to put this in a blog.
First off, let me say, I don’t judge. If you are parent who posts a million pictures of your kids online, and has no fear about it, I’m totally for that. Everyone has to make the best decision for their own family, so here’s why this decision is what I felt was best for our family.
I think that we all love the fact that information is now so easily available to us. Unlike the old days, we no longer have to take pictures with our cameras, go get them developed, wait an hour or more, buy stamps, and mail them off to family. We can take pictures now with our phones, and almost instantly share them with our family and friends. When we want to know someone’s telephone number, we don’t have to call around and ask family and friends when whitepages.com will do. And to find out if someone is home or on vacation, we no longer have to call and ask, nor do we have to find the town gossip, we can simply look at their Facebook status. Amazing isn’t it? We stay connected in a way that wasn’t possible a mere 20 years ago.
What’s being lost in this is that criminals have the same access to information that we do. Recently, a friend of mine asked me to explain why I don’t share pictures of my kids online. As an example to her, I went to her Facebook page, her mother had posted an old photo of a little girl. From that photo, I went to her mother’s Facebook page. Her mother had posted that her son was flying her to him in Texas and had posted the date. From there, I went to her son’s Facebook page, and working backwards, using simple free sites like Google, whitepages.com etc. I was able to tell my friend where her mother lived, relatives of hers that weren’t even on Facebook, when her mom was going to be out of town, where her brother went to college and high school, what sports team he played on while in college etc. All of that started with just a picture on a screen. What could I have done with that information? If I were a criminal, I could go to her mother’s house when I know she’s out of town and rob her home. I could call relatives and pretend to be a long lost friend and get even more information, I could even show up at the event that she said she was going to be attending and stalk her. Again, all of it started with ONE picture.
Another thing that I think about is pedophiles. I’ve heard people say “why would a pedophile go out of their way to research something on Facebook or some other form of social media when they can just pick up kids from a school or the park? I would say, isn’t it easier to get that information online? I’m using Facebook as an example but what I’m saying remains true for most social media sites. So stick with me here.
How I use it to find people:
I use Facebook to find people within specific areas. I’m a military brat, so finding my friends from all over the world can be difficult. Every now and then though, someone tells me “remember Katie? The last I heard she lives in California.” So I use this as a tool to find my friends.
How a criminal could use it:
Someone who lives within my area could easily search for others in the area who are within a certain age. From there, they could easily figure out which people have children, and with the pictures, they can tell how old the children are.
How I “Check-in” to keep up:
Ok, let’s just be clear here. I don’t “check in”. I think in the entire time that I’ve had Facebook I’ve “checked in” maybe once. BUT I have paid attention to where others “check in”. It’s helpful to know when my friends are on vacation so I don’t call them at random and ask random questions like “do you want to get together today for lunch?” “could you watch my kids for an hour today?”. It doesn’t always work, because I have missed it, and several times have called the same friend when she’s completely unavailable, but it does keep me up to date when I’m paying attention.
How a criminal can use it:
People post all the time about their activities in the household. Everyone knows someone who posts things like “I can’t wait to get married” “my house is so quiet” or “I can’t wait ‘till me and my husband have kids”. Then they post things like “we are going on a cruise!” or “White water rafting today!” You might as well hang a sign out for a criminal that says “hey my house is empty come on in!”
Please understand, I’m not trying to scare you, this is simply to give you some insight as to why WE don’t post pictures of OUR kids. Now I will say, it has been cool to see my cousins grow up. Our family lives ALL OVER, so seeing pictures of my cousins in cheerleading squads, or a picture of one of my cousins dressed as Ruby Bridges, VERY COOL. I get to watch them grow up from afar. There are people who are completely comfortable posting pictures of their kids, and that’s wonderful. This post is not to start an argument about how you are parenting in the right/wrong way, this is simply to help others understand our choices. What works for us may not work for you and vise versa. Would I love for everyone to see how adorable my kids are? ABSOLUTELY. But for US we just feel that the risks simply outweigh the benefits.
There you have it folks. I encourage comments, but please remember, if you post a comment with profanity it will NOT be approved. Thank you!