No Baby On Board: More Parents Keeping Info About Their Babies Off Social Media

August 29, 2014  |  

No baby pictures please!

While many parents like to show off their darling children on Facebook, there is a new trend brewing were parents are saying “no” to posting their baby’s pics on Facebook. Some cite privacy and safety concerns as well as the child’s right to autonomy as reasons why. But others are worried about how companies might use their child’s image and personal data. As one parent told the Dallas Morning News, “If I don’t want somebody to know about my child, to take an active interest in them, to recognize them in a city street or as they are leaving the schoolyard, the easiest way to do that is to not have any identifying information out about them.”

Even Facebook says it’s concerned about baby pictures on the social media site and in fact urges parents to use the site’s privacy setting. This will limit who can see the baby photos and posts. You can also create a group of close friends and relatives to share kid updates with. Still parents want more protection, not just against Facebook users but from the network itself. It is now widely known that Facebook uses user data to attract advertisers. So imagine if Facebook used info about your baby to lure in ads.

Social media sites “have not been very transparent about the way they collect data about users,” says Caroline Knorr, parenting editor at the nonprofit Common Sense Media, which promotes safe technology and media for children. “Facebook’s terms of service and privacy [policies] — no one reads it, it’s too obscure.”

In lieu of using Facebook to share photos of his baby with family and friends, one parent purchased a website domain with his son’s name.

“I’m going to make it a private website with a password so family can log in” to see updates, he told the newspaper. “When he gets old enough, I’ll probably give him the keys.”

Still a majority of parents like posting their children’s photos on social media. But it depends on how old the parents are.

A 2011 poll done in part with the Longitudinal Study of American Youth at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research found that 66 percent of Generation X parents (those born in the 1960s and ‘70s) said they post photos of their children online. And more than half said they have shared news about a child’s accomplishment online as well.

But Aisha Sultan, a fellow at the institute when the poll was conducted, says if the poll was done today, the result would might be drastically different.

“Back [then] there wasn’t a lot of conversation about this,” says Sultan. “When parents first started joining Facebook in large numbers it wasn’t the primary concern. We felt like we were in control of information we were sharing with friends and family.”

Not only parents are concerned about this issue, politicians are as well. Under new California law that goes into effect in 2015 online services, websites or apps that collect personally data must remove that content that minors are in the posts, if requested.

Do you post photos of your baby on social media?

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