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SALT LAKE CITY — My babies have irresistibly adorable bums. No really, it's true — I have about a thousand Instagram-ready pictures to prove it.
But in this case, you'll just have to take my word for it.
It's a debate that's becoming evermore prevalent — should parents be posting naked pictures of their children for the world to see? And at what point does a parent's innocent desire to publicly adore their child put said child at risk?
With social media exploding, there are seemingly endless ways to share a little too much. Many view this as a personal choice, one that can and should only be made by the parent. But when I took to social media to pose the question, the response I received was nearly unanimous: just don't do it.
What happens online, stays online
If there's one thing that should be known about the world wide web, it's that once something is thrown out there, it's out there for good. Author and psychotherapist Dr. Robi Ludwig says this is something every parent must consider when deciding what to share on blogs, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
I wouldn't post one of myself, so I wouldn't post one of them,
–Karin McLean. mother of two
"Once an image has been uploaded, parents have no way to truly control who can see, download or share it," Ludwig shared with TODAY Moms. "It's permanent."
Though there are privacy settings in place on many social media outlets, one can never be truly certain how those photos will be viewed or used. Once that bathtub photo goes live, you cede control.
"I'm very picky about what I post and where, and making sure my privacy settings are high," said Kim Nelson, mother of two. "Even then, I'm still careful. Sadly, you never know what addictions others may have."
Respecting your child's privacy
At just three years old, my daughter is already fighting me on her daily wardrobe choices. So imagine the apocalyptic battle that will ensue when she's old enough to exact her revenge on me for posting a picture of her potty-training journey online.
"Babies and toddlers grow up. That cute bath tub picture may not be so adorable when someone takes it out of context and uses it in an inappropriate manner," Ludwig told TODAY.
When it comes to respecting the privacy of our children, we must think long and hard about the fact that they may someday be uncomfortable with their lives being an open book. Though perhaps a bit extreme, might I suggest it's unfair of us to be posting photos of our children without their permission?
"There's just no justifiable reason for giving the world access to your naked child," said Lindsay Maxfield, mom to one.
Mom Beth Green has developed her own guideline.
"What I ask myself is, will this picture embarrass my kids in 10 years when they have their own Facebook accounts?" she said. "I avoid the naked pics for that reason."
Setting the precedent
Let's table the topic of parents posting pictures of their children for just a moment. In a world where social media has invaded nearly every aspect of our lives, a world where "sexting" is becoming an epidemic, how do we teach our kids what's appropriate when it comes to social media?
It's up to us as parents to set the standard.
I have seen how an innocent picture can be turned into a cruel joke or even a disgusting perversion, shared where you would never want it to be found... Parents need to be careful not to exploit their children, even in ignorance.
–Jenna Foote, mother of two
"I wouldn't post one of myself, so I wouldn't post one of them," said Karin McLean, mom of two.
No, it's absolutely not OK for our teens to post naked pictures of themselves, ever. So even though there's a gaping difference between a naked baby and a naked teenager, the principle should remain the same.
Karin Shumway, mom of four, said, "I want to teach my kids (especially my girls) that it isn't OK to show their bodies off like that, so if I am taking pictures of them without their clothes on it sends the complete wrong message."
Social media allows us to share our world with those we love, no matter how far away they may be. Still, it's essential we learn to navigate that resource.
"As parents we love to share some of those daily doses of precious moments with our close friends and family members far away," said mom Lindsay Showalter. "With that said, there are definite boundaries and levels of appropriate images and behavior that must not be ignored, especially with social media."
Keeping your children safe
Like it or not, the social media world is full of predators, those who would use and abuse the innocent photos you post of the people most precious to you. If you need just one reason to take pause before hitting "publish," consider that.
"I have seen how an innocent picture can be turned into a cruel joke or even a disgusting perversion, shared where you would never want it to be found," said mom and blogger Jenna Foote. "Posting pictures of children online is risky even when the subjects are fully clothed. Parents need to be careful not to exploit their children, even in ignorance."
It's far to easy too unintentionally make your child vulnerable to these dangers, so many say, why take the risk?
"As parents we are responsible for their care and protection in every way," said mom Kelly Wright. "I would hate for photos that I post to create an image of my kid that she nor I would want to be created."
Let's remember that even though we live in a time where the photo albums that once sat on our shelves now take residence on our computers and cell phones, we still need to guard them with great care, or at least be mindful of who gets an all-access pass.