Toddlers & Snapchat Tiaras

We are living in the age of photo editing filters. And now, we use them on our children.

My baby already has a relationship with the online world. My husband and I, proud and excited as we are, shared his face on social media the minute we got back from our ultrasound.

His profile has already begun. His first photo. Hit ‘share’ and he already exists through a digital persona. And it is already unreal — with thanks to Instagram’s many filters, I edited the image for it to appear clearer.

And, like most new parents, once he’s born, we will share a photo of his one-day-old face for all my followers to see and engage in. The photo-editing-saga begins.

But how much is too much? Are we going backwards in the battle of owning your own self image?

Photo-sharing Your Child

I read a very interesting article by marketwatch.com. It highlighted a lot of issues, the top being:

1. 80% of adults say they’ve seen parents put their attempts to get the perfect photo ahead of their child’s enjoyment of an event — Source: Society’s New Addiction: Getting a “Like” over Having a Life
2. The average parent will post almost 1,000 photos of their child online before he/she turns five. Source: The Parent Zone
3. A quarter of parents say they never ask permission of people in photos before sharing them and nearly one-fifth of parents have never checked their privacy settings

The article also quoted their children’s responses. Most of the children felt it unfair that they had no say in the images of themselves being shared online. Now the kids are grown up, they want photos of them at bath-time or videos of them doing something embarrassing taken down. Rightfully so; they want to take back their right to their self image.

Wall Street Journal, ‘The Perils of Being a Social Media Child Star’

An article by Huffington Post Canada lists important factors to consider before posting images online and had found that:

Children as young as three years old display body image problems, including a dissatisfaction with their appearance or desire to lose weight.

Which leads me nicely onto…

Using Image Filters On The Photographs / Videos Of Our Children

The biggest issue I find myself pondering, is the use of Instagram or Snapchat filters on the face of my child.

Snapchat, in particular, has the technological ability to alter your face turning you into the cutest deer to ever exist.

I have noticed many parents featuring their offspring on their Snapchat stories, turning them into cute teddybears and dogs.

They then share the same imagery on their Facebook, Twitter or Instagram account wanting to share the delight of their adorable toddler-turned-dog with the world.

As we continue further into the realms of distorted imagery, are we altering our children’s perception of ‘normal’? Studies are already providing evidence of this: the young are suffering from self-esteem issues due to the impact of online profiles.

So how can we protect our children from this?

Censorship & Your Baby

One lady I follow online recently had a baby of her own and shares moments from her little family often. The only difference? She censors her child’s face.

Much like a celebrity’s attempt at hiding their child’s face from prying paparazzi; this mother chooses to protect her baby’s image by editing over his face making him digitally unrecognizable; faceless to the strangers of the internet, yet present in her life.

Of course, if you are vigilant, you can properly protect your child’s image from unwanted eyes by implementing the proper security and privacy settings across your social media.

However, being thoughtful in what you share online is the more common and surefire way to protect your child’s face. Just like children hate it when you show guests a naked photo of themselves in the bath; they won’t (and neither will your followers!) want to have it shared online.

As we take control of our self image online, (choosing the best out of 20 selfies to share and optimising our features through filters), we lose truthfulness.

Be Cautious, Child

Like having a split personality; your child’s online persona and their real image are becoming two opposing worlds. And while filters are fun, I will go into motherhood cautious to not overexpose my son to filters and internet eyes.