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Baby in pool http.www.flickr.com.photos.8228130@N03.5088500226Q: I am a new mom, and I’m not sure how I feel about posting pictures of my baby on Facebook. Nearly all of my friends do it. I can understand the need to remain connected to family and friends and to show off your beautiful child, but this makes me uneasy. As we know, once something is posted, Facebook owns that content, even after we delete it or cancel our account. Plus, anyone can copy it and use it however they want. None of my peers seem worried about this—am I being paranoid? What impact will having one’s entire life documented online have on these children as they reach adolescence and adulthood?
New Mom in Medford, MA

A: Dear New Mom,

You’re right—when you post information online, it can spread rapidly and never really goes away, and you give up control over how it’s used. That’s true of all kinds of images, from the mildly embarrassing (a five-year-old naked in a tub) to the overtly incriminating (a teenager holding a beer at a party). Because the technologies are so new, we don’t know what effect these postings will have on kids as they grow up (other than what we can guess from how they respond to snapshots of their 5-year-old selves in the tub)—either emotionally, professionally, or legally.

So when deciding how to manage sites like Facebook, think about what you do know—remember that pictures of your child will end up not only on your friends’ pages, but can be reposted on their friends pages, and their friends’ pages, and on and on. If you want to show off your beautiful baby to lots of people you don’t know, then posting on a social media site like Facebook is fine. But if what you’d really like to do is share images of your baby with specific people whom you love and trust, then I would suggest setting up a personal photo account and sending links to that instead.

In the end, go with your gut. If you don’t feel comfortable posting your baby’s picture on Facebook, don’t. You can always share pictures in other ways. Or choose carefully which to post for the public to see and which are really just for friends and family, and share them accordingly.

Enjoy your media and use them wisely,
The Mediatrician®

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