Sharing Photos of Your Kids Online – Survey Results + My Thoughts


First, thank you so much to everyone who filled out my little survey! This is not an official research study by any means, but it was so interesting to see what everyone said. I received 141 total responses, which is way more than the 100 I was hoping for! So thanks.

I’m going to share the full results as pie charts that Google forms provides (so nice of them and so handy! I used to make my own pie charts when I did blog surveys back in the day, and it took foreeeever). Then I’ll share some of my own thoughts.

Before we get into it: a few obvious but, I think, necessary disclaimers just so we are all on the same page. First, realize that the people who filled this survey out are those who follow me on social media or read my blog, so in general this is a fairly conservative bunch. I don’t mean conservative politically or religiously (though I am, but that’s not how I’m using the word in this context); but as you’ll see in the survey results, I was surprised to see how many people do only use private accounts to share photos, or if they do have a public account, they don’t share many photos of their children specifically. I’d be interested to give these same questions to someone who does share a ton of photos of their kids publicly and see what their followers say, because it would probably be very different.

Secondly, I know this is a very personal topic and everyone is going to have their own opinion about how they handle it. And it can and will likely evolve over time. I would say I’m probably more conservative about this now then I was even when R was first born. So when I share my own thoughts about this, please don’t take what I say to mean that just because I do something a certain way I think that everyone should be doing it that way too or that I judge someone who does it differently. I think the important thing is just that we are aware of this topic and do take time to think about what we post about our kids before we post it.

The fact is, our kids today are growing up with social media, which is something we never did. It hasn’t been around quite long enough to see what the impact is later in life for kids whose parents shared so many photos of them online when they were younger. My philosophy has always been to try and think 10, 15+ years down the road. Yes, tiny baby bottoms are cute, and yes, kids sitting on the potty for the first time is exciting, but is that something my child will want “out there” when they are a teenager? I’m just not sure and even leaning toward no, so for now, I don’t post those sort of things.

The survey contained 3 questions. There was also a blank box at the end for open responses, and those were all very interesting. I've shared some at the bottom of this post.

 Do you post photos of your kids online?
a.       Yes but only to private accounts for family/close friends
b.      Yes and my account is public
c.       No, I never post any picture of my kids online
d.      I don’t have kids yet, but when I do, I plan to post photos only to a private account
e.      I don’t have kids yet, but when I do, I plan to post photos to a public account

Most people only post photos to private social media accounts. A few people mentioned in the “other” option that they do a private Dropbox, private Facebook group (one of my close friends does this), private email folder. A few others mentioned they do only major holidays but the rest of the time only show photos from far away, the side, behind etc. I really was honestly surprised by the number of people who share only privately. Only 15.9% said they share to a public account, and the small purple area is those who don’t have kids yet but plan to share to a public account.

My Facebook has always been private, at least as private as you can get it on there. I really cut down on what/how much I posted on FB this year, and a few months ago I actually total deactivated my account, so I haven’t been posting at all to Facebook. I do have my blog Facebook page, but I don’t post many single photos there. My Instagram has been private since I started, and I was always picky about who I let follow me. But I wanted to be able to tag brands and follow accounts in a more public way, so at the beginning of this year I actually made my Instagram account public. 

I went through and made 2 giant Chatbooks of photos, and then I deleted the majority of photos I’d posted of my kids and kept only those that were from the side/behind with a few exceptions. So currently my IG is public, and if you take a look at it (@theladyokie) you’ll get an idea for the types of photos I choose to share of my kids. Which is a good segue to question 2!

Do the photos you post of your kids show faces straight on (as opposed to from the side, behind, etc)?
a.       I don’t ever show their face to public accounts
b.      Many of my photos of my kids show their face
c.       I show their face only occasionally; most are from the side/behind
d.      I don’t have kids yet

The answers to this one look a bit opposite of number 1, but I’m guessing the nearly 50% of people who share many photos of their kids are also those with private accounts. I personally fall into the yellow 8%. I do post photos of my kids’ faces sometimes, but I’d say most are from the side/behind. If a photo shows their full face, I always put a watermark over it when posted on the blog (though I forgot to do that with our baby announcement photo and need to go back and add one).

The reality is that people steal photos for their own use. Just last month I was informed that a photo of me from the trip Jordan and I took to South Dakota four years ago had been turned into some kind of meme and posted to an Instagram account with hundreds of thousands of followers. The meme wasn’t vulgar, and the photo of me wasn’t terrible, so it didn’t really bother me. But I would not have liked to see a photo of my kids taken and used like that.

I also know of at least one blogger who had someone steal photos of their kids that they’d posted and make an Instagram account where they pretended those kids where their own. That’s gross and creepy! Yes, maybe that seems alarmist, but the reality is that once we post something online, we’ve lost ultimate control over it. There is so much information about us online, and if someone really wanted to stalk me, I’m sure they could pretty easily. What we can control is what we post in the first place, and although I have tons of cute photos of my kids, many of them will never be shared publicly because I just don’t feel comfortable with it. Posting from the side/behind is my compromise to not sharing any photos at all, because I do like seeing pictures of other people's kids too! Which brings us too...

When a blogger/social media account doesn’t show photos of their child’s face, do you feel…
a.       I like that they do it
b.      I don’t care; it’s their decision and doesn’t affect me following or not following the account
c.       It doesn’t bother me if that’s what they’ve decided is best, but I do wish they showed at least some photos so I could feel more connected to them
d.      I’m not mad about it or anything, but I think it’s a little strange
e.      It annoys me. Not really sure what the big deal is.
f.        I have no thoughts about this and don’t know why you even made this survey.

For question 3, no one answered F, and only one person answered E. That 9.4% in green is answer D. Blue was answer A. The largest was red, answer B. I personally would have answered C if I filled this out (that's the orange section). I follow a few accounts where the person has literally not showed one single photo of their child ever. It’s always from behind or their feet or hand or something but that’s it. I respect their decision and understand the reasoning, but I do feel like I find it harder to connect with someone if I never once get to see a photo of their child. Someone commented on this question in the “other” box, and this is exactly how I feel about it too. They said;

“A lot of us become invested throughout they pregnancy, and it feels like a legitimate letdown not to get pictures or a name.” This is totally me. Like, you follow a blogger/person on social media throughout an entire pregnancy, and then the baby is born and you see the back of their head or their foot or something. SHOW ME THE BABY. I’m not mad about it, and of course no one owes me anything at all, but I just feel a little bit invested and would like at least one photo on occasion.

Someone else wrote this, which I thought was good too: “I don’t mind not talking about and not posting about kids, but it’s a bit weird to get lots of personal stories about a kid and never see a picture.” I can’t say I know many people who talk a lot about their kid but don’t post photos, and I think maybe even subconsciously people realize this concept. You need a photo to go with a story, so posting a story about your kid and posting a picture of a sunset in a field is just random. I do know of a few bloggers, who will share a story of their kid with a photo of them from behind or something, and I appreciate that.

Obviously I don’t do names publicly, but I use initials, and I’ve said before that if someone would like to know their name just email me. It’s not a secret. Here’s my personal concern with the name thing: Google Image Search. 

If I blog my child’s name, anyone could Google Image Search it and come up with an entire page of photos of my child all in one place. Also later when they are older, I don’t like the idea of anyone being able to Google my kid’s name and find all these blog posts about them. Less likely but still, I think, something to just be aware of, is someone knowing my child’s name and finding out where I live and then trying to get my child to come with them by calling them by name or something like that. Again, probably not going to happen, but with something like that it doesn’t hurt to be safe. 

So just calling them by initials has been what I personally feel most comfortable with since R was born, and I’m thankful I decided to do that initially, because it would be hard to go back and remove all of those mentions at this point. Again, this is going to look different for everyone.

Okay! If you’re still reading, I’m going to share some of the responses I got in the paragraph box. These are just copied/pasted.

--I never post "live" even my stories are all always delayed and I don't post embarrassing photos/ inappropriate ones. I also don't post other photos of people / children without permission because I know everyone is different.

--I don't post public pics of my foster children because that is against the privacy agreement.
I don't use my kid's names on social media and try to tell their story from MY point of view, not theirs.

--I don't mind when people choose not to show their kids' faces, but I think it’s odd to post a picture of your kids and then go through huge steps to obscure their faces... why not just skip posting the picture?

--My husband is in the Internet industry (how vague is that, haha) and has seen firsthand what happens when children's photos get in the wrong hands. We were going to be so strict that we weren't going to share any photos with anyone, not even privately, but friends and family felt like they were missing out, so we found a middle ground that is comfortable (private accounts).

--Do the people who don’t show their kids faces in pictures ever share videos (insta stories, etc) showing their kids faces? How do thoughts vary about videos? --- Someone actually shared a comment that relates to this: I find I’m more willing to share silly photos of my daughter on IG stories. Not as many people watch stories so it’s a smaller audience and the picture doesn’t remain in my feed forever. It gives people who care a glimpse into my personal life (this is a public business account) without over sharing my kids.

--I think it's a wise decision to protect your children's privacy in this way. I love being "allowed in" to the lives of bloggers that I've followed for years. At the same time, however, I would not put pictures of my own child on a public account. The Internet can be a scary place!

--I have to track down people sometimes as part of my job. It scares me how much private info some bloggers put online. My opinion is that not showing pics of your children online is part of protecting their safety.

--I'm curious whether you've found or known any pictures of your kids to have been lifted from your social media or blog --- Not to my knowledge. But like I said above, I did recently find that a photo of me had been taken. I’m just assuming there is at least one photo of my kids floating around out there. I do know a few bloggers it’s happened to.

--Faces in particular I'm not too worried about--my reasoning being that I don't worry about all the many strangers that see our faces when we're out and about in public. Middle and last names, actual birthdays, birthplace, medical info, specific city names, locations, vacation dates, information like that I am much more protective of, because that's not info that the general public surrounding me would naturally see.

--I hate it when people post photos of their kids online. I just think about how I would feel if social media was around when I was a kid (I’m 35). I would also feel distracted anytime a camera was around because I’d be paranoid that whatever I was doing would turn into a story/entertainment for the internet. To be honest, it bothers me when bloggers even write about their kids personalities at all. I’m all for sharing craft ideas, or reviews about kid places, etc, but turning kids into entertainment grosses me out. I actually quit blogging when I had kids, because I have a lot of feelings about this.

--I am hyper aware of only posting the "cute/done-up" photos because I don't want to communicate (or for them to see that those photos got the most likes/comments) that their value is in being put together and only posed and pretty. --- I thought this was super interesting! I’d never thought about that before.

--I do miss seeing faces (like I wouldn’t read only blogs that didn’t show faces) BUT family safety and privacy and security are super important to me so as a reader I want to support you in that as well.

--Had a few moms of older kids say something similar to this – I used to be more strict about not posting pictures of my kids’ faces and certainly not sharing their names online. But as they've gotten older (my oldest is a tween), there are events and accomplishments they want to show off. One thing I am pretty strict about is getting their approval before posting something about them or a picture of them.


I think the bottom line for me is just that I'm constantly aware of this and considering what I feel comfortable with, for my family and specifically thinking about how my kids might feel as they get older. Obviously I do a mixture---I do share some pictures of faces and them by themselves, but I'd say the majority of photos I post are from the side/behind/on top, and overall the volume of photos I post is much less than it used to be. 

I think my kids are super cute, and I have many photos I want to share and don't. Not because they're even necessarily revealing like (in my opinion) in the bath or on the potty, but just because it's a photo of them. And they are not me. They are their own person with a personality and wants and needs, and right now they aren't old enough to understand what social media is or what it means, so I'm trying to be the best steward I can for them until they are old enough to speak for themselves. From the responses I got, it sounds like that's what we are all trying to do too.

Thoughts? Opinions? Reactions? Please share in the comments! Or, email me if that's not working for you for some reason. I'd love to hear!

Kaity B. said...

I'm such a natural oversharer that this is such a difficult topic for me. There's very little I can't or don't share about my kids and I feel like I need to reign it in a little bit. I posted a picture of Crosby using the potty on IG a few months ago and when looking at analytics saw that it had been saved by a couple users. I assume it was harmless and maybe even people I know personally, but it still made me feel weird, so I'm TRYING to be smarter.

Rach said...
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