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Our Safety Checklist : Posting Your Child Online

We are parenting like no other generation before : in a digital age.

This can be a blessing!

- Whereas our parents probably have a few "home videos" of ballet recitals and graduations, we have the privilege to capture special AND ordinary days. What a joy to be able to relive moments, again and again,through our thousands of pictures and videos.

- I grew up with my grandparents states away, and only saw them for a few days every few years. I'm so grateful that we have FaceTime, and Oliver and Eleanor get to be a part of far away family that otherwise would miss out on so much.

-Not to mention the learning advantage! We get to gleam from so many online as we watch how they do "home". I know I personally get SO many great ideas from following moms online that I admire. (And hopefully other parents find encouragement from my online presence and resources like this blog.)

But with great access comes great responsibility and we have a weight attached to each post that we need to feel. I don't want to put fear into any parent (or grandparent/aunt/uncle/etc). If you look at any of my social media feeds you'll find I rarely post anything BUT my children. (Do you blame me? They are amazing!) So I'm not telling you don't put your children online. I do however want to put in perspective what happens every time you click "POST" so you can feel the responsibility you hold.

When you post a picture/video: 1. That image/video is online forever. Even if you "delete it", it still can be resurfaced.

2. (If a public account), posting a picture is the equivalence of handing out pictures of your kids to strangers at the mall. Anyone, at anytime can view it. *I must remind us, not every adult is a "safe adult".

3. Sadly, we live in a society that photo-shop isn't just for supermodels wanting to get rid of that blemish. Perversion in Photoshop is real. Any picture can be saved, edited, and posted somewhere else without you knowing.

4. You‘re adding information to your child's "Information File Cabinet" every time you post. (Your child may not be okay with the fact that a whole online community knows everything about his childhood in a few years.)

*** These are just few of the many risks.

Goodness, Abby, I was just proud of a cute outfit and wanted to show my child off to my family and friends.

I get it. I don't want to be dramatic over here. But knowing the risks, helps you know your why. WHY are you posting?

I think there are 3 main reasons people post:

- Are you posting out of insecurity? (Aka, do you feel bad about your life/day and want the likes of others to boost your mood? This is dangerous. Living for the approval of others will always leave you disappointed. If you find yourself here, take a pause, wait a day, pray out the moment and if you still want to post it in 24 hours then give it a go.)

-Are you posting out of boredom/distraction? (We've all been here. You’re scrolling on your phone or pictures and find something and think "oh that'd be fun to share” when you have no reason to really share it. Again if you are here, press pause. Purpose-less posting can be a dangerous pattern because here we end to "over share". Sharing every bite they eat and song they sing and this can give way too much information out about your child/family. Wait a few hours or days and re-evaluate. Perhaps sending that picture to a family or friend would be a better option.

-Are you posting to grow community? (This is the greenlight zone usually. You've found a lane, you want to encourage or educate and you've gone through the "safe checklist" so you give it a publish.)

Posting family content isn't for everyone. That is a discussion I believe every parent needs to have and make that decision for your family. Why are you posting? Can these pictures be sent through a text group or mailed in a nice card? Can you archive them on a personal hardrive for personal memories later? For our family, we have decided to post "curated content" through this blog and social media accounts. Why? Well, we personally believe called to the "Family Community" and post because we feel part of our assignment from the Lord is modeling Godly family to the world. Ryan and I have talked extensively about what we are okay with posting and what not to post. We feel our family is called to influence and with that comes a grace for exposure. We do however have a checklist we use, and want to share that with you today to perhaps spark conversation in your home to get an "online policy" for your family. (***As with everything, always obey Holy Spirit if He says "Don't Post" or "Delete". Even if everything is "compliant" with your list. He knows everything and is always right.)

So here's our SAFE LIST. Every family is different. Talk to your spouse, anchor on your values, post safely and enjoy. No fear and no comparison. A lot of these are because we are in public mode.

1. Is my child fully clothed?

This is the biggest way to protect your child from online perversion. No bathtime, bathroom (potty training) or bathing suit pictures. (I know they are adorable but save them for your family photo collection). You would be DISGUSTED at how perversion will steal these pictures from the internet and distort them.

2. Can you see the outside of our home or front door?

For us personally this is important to protect privacy. This may not be an issue for you. For you it may be not showing the school your child attends or reoccurring landmarks such as the ballet studio you drop your child off at every week. This keeps your child's location in a green zone for safety.

3. Am I posting hashtag-free for solo pictures?

This is tricky because hashtags are a GREAT tool. But if the picture is of just Oliver or Eleanor alone we typically leave hashtags off to help only those who follow me see it. "Unsafe Adults" look for pictures of children through certain hashtags. If there is another person (such as a parent) in the picture it is much harder to distort that type of picture, so we do this just for solo pictures.

4. Is this kind to my child's privacy?

We don't post any meltdowns, or super personal things. I wouldn't want someone posting me sobbing in frustration or waking up with crazy bedhead. Why would I do that to my child? Just remember one day your child will be a teenager (or hold a very public occupation) and be able to go back and read everything you said and posted. Let's respect their privacy and make them proud!

Something that has helped us too :

  1. Family text groups : This gives us a space to show off the hundreds of silly videos and pictures instead of using online as our main source of "LOOK HOW ADORABLE OUR CHILD IS" moments :) .

  2. "Close Friends" groups : On instagram you can create a "Close Friends" group. These are people you'd invite to dinner and show them cute pictures of your kids. You have friendship and they respect your family/child.

  3. Prints. Call my old school but I love a good printed framed picture.

I hope I've gotten your wheels turning: online presence is a privilege but also a responsibility.

- Be mindful - is there purpose behind each post?

- Do you have permission from the parent of that child to post?

- Be okay with going through your feed and deleting anything that you posted in wrong motive or quick fingers (aka posting without going through the safe list). I ADORE your families. I want to see as many pictures as possible (and want to show my family off to you as well). There is great joy in watching families grow and follow Jesus. But let's all do our part to keep our children safe and set them up for success down the online road. Here For You, Abby ***Don't forget... The Cirkles are cheering you on.


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