Hit “Post”—Wait, Not So Fast!

Written on April 10, 2014 at 9:00 am , by

I remember when memories had expiration dates. What I mean is that if someone had a picture that you liked, you actually had to ask for the negative or request a copy of the photo. Occasionally, by the time you received the keepsake, you had long forgotten about the event. The good thing about formally requesting a reproduction was the implicit approval residing in the delivery of the image.

That was then. This is now. These days, a photo is taken and uploaded faster than you can say “Cheese!” A quick turnaround is wonderful for sharing a joke and capturing good times, but if you are looking for private moments, you won’t find them in this technological age. And when it comes to children—and more specifically photos of other people’s children—we’re not dealing with a laughing matter anymore.

A recent poll indicated that 57% of parents on Facebook strongly dislike having unauthorized photographs of their children posted. However, most parents feel like they don’t have control over the images. Their wishes and wants are conflicted. As a parent, if you don’t have control, who does?

Perhaps the answer is that every family needs to have a social media and sharing policy. Decide if it’s okay to have your little cherub’s face posted at any time by folks who are not part of your family’s tribe. If it is, have at it. If not, then diligently make sure that your wishes are enforced. That may result in the potentially difficult task of asking friends and family to delete unauthorized photos. By the same token, if you post a picture and are asked to remove it, please do.

In the future, schools and organizations may need to require consent for the release of photographs to protect your wishes. Until that happens, the wiser decision may be to ask, not assume, before hitting the “post” button.

Have you ever asked someone not to post (or to remove) a photo of your child from a website? If so, post a comment and tell me what happened.

Janet Taylor, MD, MPH, a mother of four, is a psychiatrist in New York City. Follow her on Twitter @drjanet.

Got a question for Dr. Janet? Email her at askdrjanet@familycircle.com.

3 Responses to “Hit “Post”—Wait, Not So Fast!”

  1. We have never had to ask someone to remove images because we were explicit about our wishes that pictures never be posted before they were even born. My husband is a software developer and understands the ins and outs of the internet. Once it goes up, it always exists somewhere out there. With how easy it is to swipe strangers’ pictures, we didn’t want our kids ending up as a poster child for some fundraising scam or something worse unbeknownst to us. That has really happened to people. We are proud of our stance and proud of our family and friends for respecting our wishes that not one picture touch the internet. So far so good. Not everyone understands it, some are downright frustrated by it, but most are reasonable. The bottom line is we control who sees our images, period, so I will continue to tell/remind family and friends of that. I will always assume that policy for others as well, unless it is explicitly stated to me otherwise.

  2. We prefer that our children’s photos not be published anywhere without our permission. My son’s school has a waiver to sign for permission to take photos, but I did not sign it. I do post some photos of my children, but I prefer to have control over what photos are put out there.

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