Why I don't share my son online often

Close up photo of Ofaglasgowgirl and son

We live in a world where it's becoming normal to share every part of our lives, using twitter to share the littlest thing, posting what we had for breakfast on Instagram, sharing memories on Facebook and more. It's harmless, but in some cases I feel like we can almost be pressured into feeling like we have to share those moments, I know I have. 

But there are some things, for me anyway, that I don't feel comfortable sharing all the time and the biggest one is my son.

I've never tried to hide the fact that I am a Mum, I feel incredibly lucky to have the title of Mum and I do talk about Little bear often, but I cannot bring myself to share photos of him all the time or place his life online when he is 6 years old and has no idea what consenting to be shown on the Internet really means. I've had him ask me lots of times if he can be in my social media posts, a lot of the time he's my assistant when I'm taking photos because it's something we bond over as he enjoys photography as well. But he asks to be in the photos and when I try to explain why I don't want to post pictures of him all the time, he gets a little confused as to what being open to the whole world really means. Although he asks, I never give in. Sure, I let him go in the pictures a lot and we play about, but I very seldom post them. 

So, why don't I share my son online?

I've been asked a few times why I no longer share my son online and I've even had passive aggressive Instagram DMs talking about my son never being around, so, today I'm talking all about the reasons I don't share him often online anymore.

Back in my early days of blogging I used to post lots of photos of Little bear, I had posts on him and he was a regular on my Instagram grid, I never really thought about what would happen if the wrong person got their hands on the photos and I never took into account what Little bear might say when he's older because I was posting without his permission. 

I try to teach Little bear about boundaries and having autonomy over his own body plus life because I grew up in a family who forced hugs and kisses on the children because that was the done thing, now here I am at 27, almost 28, and I HATE people touching me without permission or trying to spring a hug on me, even with S because I just don't like my personal space invaded. I NEVER want Little bear to feel this way and I want him to trust me and know that I will never make him hug anyone or kiss them. 

Because I want to teach him these things, putting his life out into the world without him being able to grasp what being online means just doesn't sit right with me, but I never would have thought about any of this if I hadn't had an incident that threw me into a fit of rage. 

"Someone stole photos of Little Bear and sent them to people and also claimed my mum was his, to get sympathy when she passed away" 

I was out at Lunch with an old friend one sunny day; I had dropped Little bear off with dad at a gala day and I went to meet my friend in the city centre for cocktails and a catch up. We were halfway through lunch, not enough cocktails in me to calm me for the information I was about to get. My friend asked me how Christmas was and that she got a photo of MY SON sent to her on Christmas day from "X" saying he was at my house, celebrating Christmas with us and the ride on jeep Little bear was on, he bought him it. Safe to say I was APPALLED. 

Some background on "X" & mines friendship; We met at Borders in Glasgow City centre one day, it's a place where goths, emos, punks and the likes would get together for the day. Everyone sort of knew everyone, that's how it was for us anyway and when we met we clicked, we had a good laugh together and a joke started that we were brother and sister, so, we played on that and I called him Bro and he called me Sis, everything was fine. 

My mother passed away in August 2008, it was devastating, I LOVE that woman more than words, you can check out a recent post I wrote about my mum here - 12 Years Today. Anyway, at that lunch I found out that he was going around telling everyone that my mum was his mum and because she had passed away, people would give him sympathy and such. Now, when I found that out after I had been told pictures of my son were being sent out, I was LIVID. Who does something like this? Who leads such a boring life that they have to piggyback on someone else's?  I sent so many texts and messages to him telling him what he had done was despicable, I couldn't believe someone I thought of as a friend would do that, it was such an eye opener. 

"He asked me to sign debt into my name after not speaking to me for 13 years. And after he couldn't see pictures of Little bear from my Facebook, he stole them from my friends" 

After that I started mass deleting photos of my son, and that's when I found out my dad had been sharing photos of my son on Facebook talking about when he was going to meet his "grandson". Now, I don't know my dad, sure, I know who he is, and I've heard the stories growing up, but the last time I saw him in person was when I was 3 and then I didn't speak to him till I was 16. We only had a handful of conversations when I was 16 but we fell out of contact again after I refused to sign debt into my name for him... We've not met since I was 3 but you want me to sign debt for you? Oh, OK! 

Anyway, I didn't hear from him again until 2016 when he started messaging me on Facebook. We had talked a few times before he started to argue with me about how my mum was a terrible mother and how SHE kept him away from me and stole me, the man is living in a different world clearly. We argued and then I blocked him, I forgot all about him until I asked my friends to delete photos they had of Little bear to avoid anyone stealing the photos again and my bestie informed me that my dad had been sharing photos from him and saying he couldn't wait to meet Little bear, I did NOT take that well. He got a very lengthy message from me and then he was blocked by my friends and myself again. 

Changing my outlook on sharing online 

Before all of this like I said, I would never have thought about the dangers, even though I had read about them. I was uneducated in this topic because I never took an interest and I thought it was "cute" to have Little bear be part of blog and in my mind, it was a case of "it won't happen to us". 

Now I look back with anger towards myself because I didn't protect my son, at least that's how it feels. I know he wasn't harmed physically, but it's not right that he had pictures of him taken and distributed. It was those two incidents that really made me think and the worst part was they happened at the same time, had my friend not told me about "X" stealing photos, I wouldn't have found out my dad was as well. 

I've spent a lot of time reading up on children and the Internet, there are heart-breaking stories of parents who have shared photos of their kids online and they photos have ended up on the dark web, in people’s hands who have no right ever looking at a child, it is SICKENING. Reading these stories were tearing my emotions apart, but it was important that I did because like I said, I always had the attitude of "it won't happen to me" which is a dangerous attitude to have, especially when it comes to kids.

Dangers of posting children online

There are many dangers to posting your child online, seriously, look it up and search for people's real stories on their experiences, I'll post a couple of sources as I go where you can read what I've been reading, about sharing our children online. 

Invading Privacy 

While it may not seem like a big deal now, you're actually Invading the children's privacy by sharing details of their life online. We have a legal age limit where children can start making decisions of their own, we hear it all the time that children cannot consent under a certain age so why is it any difference when we are choosing to share their lives online without them really knowing what it means? 

For example, have you heard of 8 Passengers? I don't want to say the full name again because I do not want to give them any sort of traffic, so I will be referring to them as "8". 

They are a family channel that shares EVERYTHING, and their brand are their children. From what I have gathered by watching YouTube videos and reading some articles is that it seems to mainly be the mum who is in charge. They seem to overshare and the children are embarrassed by the content that is put out, they have told their mum that they don't have any friends because of it (evidence in sources), that they don't want to be on camera and that it's making them miserable, but the mum seems to take no notice. 

When I first heard of "8" I was mortified because I never want to do that to my son, NEVER. And it's cases like this that show you that you can take it too far when it comes to sharing their lives. 


Digital Kidnapping 

Have you heard of digital Kidnapping before? I hadn't until I started to read up on the dangers of sharing children's lives online. I feel like this one is close to what happened with me, although no one posed as his parent or such, but they took photos of my child and said they were with him etc.

What Is Digital Kidnapping?

"Digital kidnapping (DK) is the theft of a minor's photos, posing as them, or posing as their parents. DK is commonly done to reveal private or sensitive information that negatively impacts the child's life, making it difficult to gain acceptance to college, or subjecting them to bullying. In rare cases, a kidnapper may assume the identity of a parent, making the impostor's followers believe that they are the child's parent. By posing as a peer or authority figure, adults may also gather information about minors, and use it in real world crimes, such as kidnapping." - From Wikipedia

I found this YouTube video of a segment on the Dr Phill show where a Mother and Father had their children digitally kidnapped. My heart broke for the parents, to have their children's photos used like that by someone is disgusting. 


Digital Footprint 

Digital footprints seem to be starting from birth now, when women are pregnant, sometimes we want to scream it from the roof tops and share our scan photos with everyone, I know I did. This begins the digital footprint of the baby because presumably the scan photo gets followed up with a just born photo and it continues from there. 

So, that's why I don't share photos of Little bear much, if ever. He may not always be in my photos, but he is with me all the time, he's my mini me and I love that boy with my whole heart. It is hard to try and separate my everyday life from Internet life because its a balance of knowing what to post and what not to, I like to celebrate our achievements, especially Little bears but I see no need for me to share about him going a whole week or month without little accidents, I don't have to share his life because that's not what my blog is, although Little bear is talked about and he is a huge part of my life, this is a part of my life he doesn't have to be involved in.

Wither I post about him or not, he is with me, He does have time where he wants to play in his room which allows me time to do tasks on my to do list, or when he goes to bed, that's my time, so whilst it may look like he isn't around, believe me, he is. 

Other Sources:

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  1. I'm so sorry you had to go through all of that. It really is a scary world we live in isn't it?? I've always shared my child online, innocently and appropriately of course, however a few months ago I started limiting what I shared because it just felt a bit wrong now that they were growing that little bit older. Once I had decided that I would no longer share anything of them online at all, I removed / archived / deleted everything I possibly could of them online.
    Sadly, it was to late and a friend had found a photo of my child on a random instagram account, where the person posting was claiming that it was their child (along with lots of other similar looking children). It's definitely put so much in to perspective for me with regards to the internet and the sharing of minors in any capacity! xx

  2. I'm so sorry all of that happened! And how weird that some people are passive aggressive about you not sharing Little Bear often!? Aside from it being the sensible option, its none of their business!
    A lot of my friends who have children will post once every now and then, which I think as you've said is a much safer option. You can still keep all of those wonderful family photos to look back on without them being online.

    Em xx


  3. Thank you for sharing this story. I couldn't agree more although I don't have children of my own, I don't post anyone's picture online without permission, especially strangers and minors. It's one thing if it's a private Facebook, Instagram or Twitter account but for just ANYONE to see... I quake just thinking about what could happen. Keep it up momma.Rachel x

  4. I absolutely hate over sharing when it comes to children, they should be able to make their own decisions when they are older about how much they want to share. I’m not on fb but I imagine all the recent back to school photos are floating around. It makes it so easy to attract bad vibes and I find it a shame people can’t just have them in their family album and enjoy them that way anymore.