I Shouldn’t Be This Worried About Online Photos. Are You?

Do you post photos of your kids online? Do they feature on your social media? Do they appear on your blog?

I was a student when Facebook first appeared and I shared everything! When my daughter was born a few years later, I loved posting little updates about her and sharing cute photographs.

Now I don’t post anything about my kids. I’ve gone from one extreme to the other and I don’t know what to do anymore…

No Online Photos

I’m not sure when I got so nervous about posting photos online, but somewhere along the way, it spooked me.

I have culled my friends list countless times to make sure I’m only being watched by people I’m happy with. I’ve stopped referring to my children by name. I’ve put a full-on photograph lockdown on my friends and family.

I’m scared that the photos will get into the wrong hands. I hate the thought that I don’t have control over who sees them. Once you click publish, you lose your power to guard them.

What if “they” work out which school my kids go to? Or what swimming class they’re in? Or where we go to church? I’m always posting about family trips and school activities. It wouldn’t be hard to work it out, I mean I “like” the school Facebook page – isn’t that a bit of a giveaway??!

School Photographs

In fact, that’s what has sparked off this whole debate – my daughter has been part of a project at school and the local newspaper came in to photograph the children. We are the only parents who haven’t given consent for the photograph.

Or at least we were the only parents.

Jenny came from home from school screeching that she was going to famous! That’s the first I heard about it. For the entire rest of the evening, she insisted we refer to her as “famous Jenny” (!)

But I knew the school would realise their error.

I knew that sitting in some dusty school drawer was a form we had filled in at the start of her school career which stated we did not give permission for any photographs to be published ANYWHERE.

What could I do? I felt dreadful.

So the next morning, I dropped Jenny off and walked sheepishly to the school office to change my permissions.

I’ll be honest – I feel like I’ve caved!

I’ve given in to peer pressure.

I have a strict ban on posting photos online, and yet I’ve just given permission for my child’s photograph to appear in the newspaper… and possibly on the newspaper website… in her school uniform… including her name.

What am I doing???

I just didn’t want her to miss out. I know they chose her this time, but what if she becomes the child that is never chosen for anything because she can’t be photographed? What if she is overlooked for the school play because they can’t feature her on the school website? What if she isn’t chosen to represent her school because she can’t be interviewed by the newspaper?

Online Photos Question Mark

Am I overreacting?

But then, is this really anything to worry about? I reckon 95% of parents post photos of their kids online. All the other parents seem to be happy for their kids to be on the school website. Am I just overreacting?

What is it that I’m expecting to happen?

There are literally millions of photographs on the internet – what is the chance of anyone sinister getting hold of one of mine?! Who would be interested in a little pic of Jenny eating a picnic or riding her bike?!

And we’ve already established that anyone could work out which school we’re at already, even without photographs, so that argument is irrelevant too.

But my gut reaction is still plaguing me. And I’m a big believer in trusting your gut instinct.

I run a baby & toddler group and I am the admin of the group’s Facebook page. I have had to ban a number of men from the page because, when I’ve explored their profiles, they are from far-flung countries, with no connection to the group, and are following dozens of childrens’ Facebook groups.

They’re clearly just waiting for us to post photographs of the children we work with.

That terrifies me!

I wonder – are the school as vigilant with their Facebook followers as I am? Does it even matter anyway? What am I expecting to happen?

The BBC recently posted this online video about how to share photos of your children safely. It seems to completely condemn the actions I’ve just taken. I should have stuck to my guns. I shouldn’t have given in to peer pressure…

Aaargh! I’m tying myself in knots again! Any words of advice/comfort for this mama in turmoil?

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

Diary of an imperfect mum



Add yours
  1. 1
    Intrepid Bebe

    I’m amazed how some
    Schools have open Facebook groups on Facebook often pop up on my feed because a friend was tagged and the image will show their child plus multiple others. This seems so wrong. I do worry about sharing publicly and haven’t worked out where I stand. I do think people often believe the only people looking at their images are those that like/comment/follow which I imagine certainly isn’t the case.

    • 2
      Lucy At Home

      Yes this is my worry. Since writing this post, I’ve actually unfollowed my child’s school on facebook – it just felt like I was broadcasting her location to the world. Surely schools must have some sort of advice/training on how to use social media, etc?!

  2. 3
    Nicole - Tales from Mamaville

    No, you are definitely NOT over-reacting. I feel the same way about sharing pictures of my son on public social networks. It’s sad that we have to be so irritatingly careful about so many things these days, and probably rob the joy of so many things of childhood, but it’s better to be safe than sorry, I suppose.

  3. 6

    I love this post. We value our children’s privacy very much. In fact my husband refuses to allow me (which I agree with) to use photos of our daughters on my blog and he doesn’t want me having a facebook page for the blog for this very reason too. I do post photos of the girls on facebook, but I always make sure they are very demure/tasteful. No swimming costumes, or half naked photos, certainly not photos of them in the bath etc. With regards to the school, just because you have ‘caved’, doesn’t mean you don’t have a point. Why don’t you raise your concerns with the school and challenge them to provide you with how they protect your child’s online privacy? Ask them to tell you their position and then you can make a better informed decision. #blogcrush

  4. 8
    Mackenzie Glanville

    Our school doesn’t have a Facebook page so I hadn’t thought about that. I do post photos of my children on my blog and instagram. I do not use their real names on my blog, and I also don’t use my real name either. When I started blogging I had no personal images. But I gradually started to share pics of myself and then my children. I sometimes worry, but for the most part I try to think the best of people. I know that is probably naive! I never post kids in their school uniform, or mention their school. It was one of the reasons that I started the insta tag #mummyshot to share pics of our kids without showing their faces, but still people use our tag with face shots. I think we need to listen to our gut as a parent, if you don’t feel right about it then stick with that. No one should make you feel pressured ever! #BlogCrush

    • 9
      Lucy At Home

      I love your idea for the #mummyshot! I only use photos without their faces on on my blog, but it can be pretty tricky to inject any real personality into the photos. I don’t have Insta at the moment, but if I ever do venture into it, I’ll remember this tag

  5. 10
    Fi - Beauty Baby and Me

    I don’t think you’re overreacting. It’s just so sad that we have to think this way because there are some sickos out there. I do share pictures of Josh, it’s part of my blog and I can’t help but show him off. But this is a concern of mine and I have to admit what you’ve written here has got me thinking. Make sure you go with your gut instinct lovely – it’s rarely wrong xx #blogcrush

  6. 11

    I worry about it too! My girls are only young now but when they become older and more recognisable im going to be very careful with what I share! #blogcrush

  7. 12

    It’s such a difficult one isn’t it. I banned my older daughter from school photos because we had been through a distressing situation and I felt I needed to protect her identity and location. That was before Facebook though and things have changed so much. I do post pictures of my kids online and worry about it, but it seems like everyone does it. I use knicknames on my blog but I know that we are not that difficult to changes. I think my feelings about sharing are changing a lot know that I have a girl in secondary school, I feel much less happier about sharing her pics and feel I need to think about how she would feel if her school friends saw them.

  8. 14

    I’m so glad you posted this! I feel the same way, it’s all very worrying yet maybe it isn’t, at the same time? It’s difficult to know what to do about school photos. I can totally understand how you felt in this situation.

  9. 15
    Em Linthorpe

    Hi. I think it’s finding a level that you’re comfortable with. I don’t use my real name or my children’s names on my blog – a lot of people do.
    My daughter is of an age where she is using social media independently and I stress to her all the time about keeping safe and what is appropriate to share and what isn’t. I think this is where my concerns lay primarily, rather than pictures on school websites and newspapers. #BlogCrush ❤

    • 16
      Lucy At Home

      Oh I’m dreading the day my kids are old enough to use social media. I’m just hoping that I will have instilled enough good sense in them by then to by wise about what they post…

  10. 17

    I completely see your, and others, points regarding not sharing images of children. Before I started my blog my Facebook was set so only friends could see any pictures of my children. Now I use their images in my blog. Please forgive me while I ramble my justification (for a blogger I am terrible with words), I think that, for the majority of us, (not including victims of DV etc) the fear we have is of unsavoury sorts seeing pictures of our children. The thing is that, in my opinion, these sorts could be around us looking at our children in real life anyway. Now, that’s NOT to say let’s flaunt them around, rather I am saying I try to be sensible in what I share, I am vigilante to a degree (the example you gave of men joining FB groups for example, if it were clear they had no children/cause to be there I’d delete and block) and I look out for them and their best interests online in the same way I do if we are out in public. Do I even make sense?
    Point is, if your gut instinct tells you not to then don’t, your decision to not share is no more right or wrong than my decision to share. 🙂 #blogcrush

  11. 22
    Rhyming with Wine

    I know exactly how you feel. I started off blogging entirely anonymously but gradually a few pics of myself have started to creep in, especially since curiosity got the better of me and I joined Instagram. I do share the occasional pic of The Boy – but generally when he is pulling an odd face or is covered in glitter etc. He is only just 2 and for now I think he is still fairly unrecognisable. I don’t ever put pics of his big sister’s face on though as she is 4 now and I just feel that I should respect her privacy. All of her pics are back of head only. It’s funny but to say that I am a blogger and share our lives with the world to an extent, I too am one of the only parents to not allow nursery to share pictures. I just don’t want someone that takes a dislike to something on my blog knowing where my children are. I also only share pictures of our days out once we have left that destination and are on our way home. Daft I know – but once it gets in your mind it’s hard to shake isn’t it? I think we each just have to go with our instincts. Great post. Thanks for hosting #blogcrush x

  12. 24
    Angela Watling

    This is so tough and ultimately you need to follow your gut. Would the school allow you to give permission for photos by exception? I think a photo in the local paper is reasonably controlled compared to a Facebook group.

    I don’t put pictures of my daughter on social media. I use them on my blog but I always blur her face. I use my real name but not hers. I guess people could work out who she is if she really tried. Her private nursery don’t have a Facebook group – they seem to be very cautious with privacy which I appreciate. I went to some summer classes at a local private nursery who have an open Facebook group and they always post pictures of the children which I find worrying.

    Go with your gut and if your daughter is upset them you’ll have to ride it out until she’s older! #blogcrush

  13. 26
    Peachy and her Mommy

    What you share online is of course entirely up to you. However, I would like to point out that if your children go outside people could take photographs of them and do whatever they want with those photos. I don’t think having a death grip on family photos is actually going to keep your family safe. #BlogCrush

  14. 27

    It seems impossible to do right for doing wrong. I spend a lot of time teaching children at school to be safe online. I think that you have to do what’s comfortable for you. When my son was born I hated putting photos of him online, I thought my friends and family were insane for putting their families out there so freely. As he’s got older I’ve relaxed because I made myself more paranoid avoiding putting him online. I think a complete blanket is probably a touch extreme but I did it myself so I understand where you’re coming from. By putting pictures online now I’m hoping I can teach him that technology is part of his life and how to use it safely and protect himself. #BlogCrush

  15. 29

    I post pictures online but you’ve got me thinking here. I’ve always thought that everyone does it and I can always delete them if I wanted too, as I’m not sure anyone would care enough to have saved them. But now I’m not so sure! #blogcrush

  16. 30
    Lisa Pomerantz

    I post pictures of my kids and me, and occasionally the Mrs. if she lets me! We don’t use our real names, and truth be told, we are photographed everywhere we go. Outside on the streets, while driving, walking the dog in residential neighborhoods. Cameras abound. I choose to live carefully, but not too neurotically. Not that there is anything wrong with that, of course! It seems the world gets scarier and scarier and being connected only causes more harm by harm doers. #BlogCrush xo

    • 31
      Lucy At Home

      Yes I think you’ve said it really – it’s about finding some sort of balance. Being neurotic about it doesn’t help, but being really lax is not always sensible either. I need to try and find a place somewhere in the middle!

  17. 32

    As a new blogger, I’ve been trying to work out my position on this too. I’m really not sure how comfortable I am posting pictures of his face visibly, and I think it’s a good idea to go with your gut. #dreamteam

  18. 33
    Rhian Harris

    It’s such a tricky area. I have friends that share nothing, and some that share everything. I guess I am somewhere in between – I have 2 Insta profiles; 1 is locked and I don’t allow randoms in, the other is open but has no location info. It sucks that we have to be like this though 🙁 #blogcrush

  19. 35

    This makes my blood run cold! I cull my IG followers all the time – particularly all the men following 1000s of mummy bloggers – I’ve checked fellow bloggers accounts and they don’t block them – I’m so shocked. What interest has a man in mummy bloggers – just scares me. I spend probably two to three hours a week going through my followers and blocking anything that looks suspect – they stand out a mile and I urge all parents to take some responsibility in this. Well written lovely #DreamTeam

    • 36
      Lucy At Home

      Thank you 🙂 Oh I’m so glad that you take this seriously too. I thought it was just me being really overprotective. Like you say though – what exactly is their motivation for following mum bloggers?? I think I’d rather not have an answer to that!

  20. 37
    The Squirmy Popple

    It’s so hard to get the balance right. I used to post a lot of photos of my daughter when she was a baby, but now that she’s older and really becoming her own person, I feel less comfortably giving her a digital footprint that she didn’t consent to. I still post photos on my personal FB page, but on my blog I only use photos where her face isn’t clearly visible. Is that still too much? I’m still trying to work it out, to be honest. #DreamTeam

  21. 39

    Great post hun and you’ve really got me thinking. I do share pictures of my boys on my blog as I want to be able to look back on it in the future and see what they were like. I also share pictures of them on instagram but it does worry me sometimes..especially now you’ve mentioned that about the Facebook page you run! I think you are right to trust your gut lovely xx #BlogCrush

  22. 40

    #dreamteam today i sat through a sexting conference as part of my occupation…sadly its a real issue and most parents are in denial – their children won’t do these things, they won’t be targets – we simply dont know how society will progress with internet use, its still too new and currently we can’t keep photos safe. Plus police are constantly a step behind due to the nature of the online crime. so, i think listen to your gut and f*** what society and everyone else is doing.

    • 41
      Lucy At Home

      Thank you so much for sharing this. I think parents need this sort of information – I think there is just a general feeling that everything will be fine, when actually the technology is advancing all the time and there’s so much going on that we don’t know about.

  23. 42

    It’s a real tough one. I have very mixed feelings too, and ended up caving when I started the blog. I’ve totally contradicted myself and I”m not always comfortable. I also read the BBC guide when it came out. My husband and I don’t really post on our personal social media, but I do on the blog – and I don’t know why. For me one thing is control – I didn’t like family posting pictures without our permission – especially when a family member posted a newborn picture the day after she was born, without our permission and before we had posted any pictures. I was heartbroken. So for a long time it was about control. But there is also that terrible fear of bad people. We’ve also not signed consent forms at various events. I’m not sure what we’ll do when she gets older. It’s such a minefield. I think just do what you feel it right, and sometimes that might change, but don’t beat yourself up about it. #DreamTeam

    • 43
      Lucy At Home

      Oh no I can’t believe a family member (or anyone for that matter!) would post a photo of your baby before you’d had a chance to. That makes me so mad! I messaged a friend and demanded he took down a facebook congratulations message he’d sent to my sister in law after she’d had her baby, because they hadn’t yet announced it on facebook yet.

  24. 44
    Amy Downes

    I confess i am quite happy to post pictures of my little one and I purposefully use them on the social media for my blog because, frankly, he’s a cutie and I think people will like the photos. The video you’ve shared is really helpful in making sure I’m doing that safely (I must think hard about tagging myself in places with photos of him). Thank you for the thought provoking piece #brillblogposts

  25. 46
    Hannah Meadows

    I’m hyper-careful too, but because my children are adopted and I don’t want their birth family tracing them via social media. I do put photos of them on Facebook, but my account is in lockdown. I don’t follow Facebook groups or Twitter accounts of any organisations local to us, in case the connection is made… and I don’t consent for photos that are going online or in the paper. We are forever reminding school to remind parents about not taking photos of other people’s children during school plays and sports days and then putting them on social media. Yes, I am that parent, because there are specific people who have hurt my children and there is no way they are getting near them again. I think your caution is a good thing.

    • 47
      Lucy At Home

      Ah yes when you have adopted children that adds a whole extra dimension into the mix and I can totally understand why you’re so strict about who posts photos of your kids. I think it’s so important and you should be proud for being “that parent” – you’re doing what is necessary to protect your kids!

  26. 48
    Alana - Burnished Chaos

    I think it’s only natural to worry about this stuff. When I started blogging I was on,y going to you shots that didn’t show their faces but I soon changed my mind. I never mention their names, or my surname, or where we live. I also check everyone who follows me on Instagram. I had a guy follow me recently who had no photos himself and the only other people he followed were sports broadcasters, and young women posting lots of pouting selfies. It really creeped me out and I immediately blocked him. We all have to trust our gut instincts x

  27. 50
    Honest Mum

    It’s a personal one so I would go with what feels right. I didn’t share images of Oliver when I started but decided to after a long chat with my husband. Lovely meeting you and your daughter yesterday, V x

    • 51
      Lucy At Home

      I think it’s something that lots of bloggers worry about. The problem is, I think it does limit you if you don’t share photos (particularly if you’re a “parenting blogger” so your blog naturally features your kids an awful lot). I just can’t seem to shake the fear…

  28. 52
    Annette, 3 Little Buttons

    I would always say trust your instincts and go with your gut feeling. It is a hard one, because our little ones are bound to have digital footprints eventually anyway. It’s just their generation and the way technology is moving forwards. I have the same worries and am very selective over the images that I do use. Thanks so much for linking up to the #DreamTeam xx

  29. 54
    Susie - This Is Me Now

    I worry about this too.. it’s why I don’t post photos of my daughter on my blog other than side on or backs or heads or on my social media too. (I do on my personal Facebook page and I have stated to on IG stories as it’s deleted and I can see who’s watched them). I too get the odd blog Facebook page like from sinister looking people (men) and ban them. It’s just not worth it. I sometimes wonder if I’m over reacting too, as you say, loads of parenting bloggers put pics online so we’d have to be unlucky.. but our children are our most precision things so I’m sticking to my gut too. Xx #DreamTeam

    • 55
      Lucy At Home

      I think you hit the nail on the head here – our kids are just so precious – we’d do anything to protect them, even if it means taking more awkward photo angles to avoid their faces

  30. 57
    Crummy Mummy

    I think the fact I’m a journalist means I have quite a laissez-faire attitude to this – I think the chances of anything sinister happening are so minute it’s not worth worrying about. That said, what you say about random men following your Facebook group is scary #ablogginggoodtime

  31. 58
    Joana at Mind the Mummy

    I am kind of on the fence about this. My partner is really private and isn’t wildly crazy about me sharing pictures of our son, even though I do it conservatively. I do set boundaries, though, including no nursery shots or references to it that could identify it, and no publications like newspapers, or nursery newsletters. I do catch myself thinking more and more about it, especially since weirdos seem to be crawling around everywhere and may very well change my stance to a no photos or name references soon… It’s an uncomfortable subject, especially when you are a parent blogger. #blogcrush

    • 59
      Lucy At Home

      Yes, like you say, it’s especially tricky when you’re a parenting blogger because photos of family life are part of the job. I think it’s such a tough one to call and I still change my mind from day to day. Currently, though, I am sticking with no faces on my blog

  32. 62
    Alice | Letters to my Daughter

    I read a frightening post from another mum who had her Instagram photos stolen and used for baby role play – the other person was posting the photos giving the child a new identity saying it was her son, and then other uses were getting involved acting out this scenario where he’s been kidnapped, and she was negotiating with them to get him back etc… There wasn’t a lot the real mum could do about it because they were in another country and Instagram wouldn’t do anything.
    My husband is very happy for me to share photos of D on the blog, but I don’t name her. I keep umming and ahh-ing over it. Still undecided. I have shared photos of her, but tempted to go back and watermark them at least so they’re less appealing to any would-be photo thieves. Happiness is Here blog does some really nice shot though of her kids without showing their faces… Maybe I’ll try that? I don’t know!! Also in a quandary!

  33. 64

    The BBC link is nice and clear. We need to think of it will embarrass them as well. I don’t normally post photos of my daughter on my blog unless her face is partially obscured. I do on my own Facebook page, though.
    I agree we need to be vigilant and hope schools are, but I am now more worried than I was before. Thanks for sharing.

  34. 65
    Kids of the Wild

    I’m ex-police and totally agree with everything you’ve said yet I still post pics online for the blog, especially since my blog is all about getting kids and families outdoors. It’s a really tough position to be in and I loathe that life has become like this but it is a fact that the internet is so poorly ‘policed’ for this kind of thing. I check every single follower who joins me on every social media platform, especially Instagram after getting a very inappropriate follower early on. I quit Insta for a while after it. I’m extremely careful with stuff on my personal pages though. It’s a good debate but I’m not sure there are any solids answers.

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