I went to visit good friends last night who recently had a baby boy. He’s only been on the planet for about 10 weeks and he is already a healthy 15+ pounds and thriving. (Seriously, the outfit I bought him for next summer will likely fit him by the end of this summer.) He is beyond adorable and so mild-mannered. It was such a joy to hold a newborn in my arms again and reminisce about the days when my now 3 year old daughter was only a wee little bundle herself.
This may sound odd, but I was also somewhat relieved to find that he is in perfectly good health. Since his birth, there hasn’t been one single photo of him posted anywhere. Not on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Now his parents aren’t exactly active in social media, but his father has an account and periodically posts to it, so I imagined that the birth of his first son would have certainly been a good time to log on. But he didn’t. And what was even greater cause for alarm was that his paternal aunt is social media-obsessed, the type who posts multiple times a day on every platform imaginable, and even SHE hadn’t posted anything. So naturally I started to worry.
Turns out the reason is simple, and I learned it last night after snapping pictures of him with my iPhone. I took a couple of close ups and my girlfriend casually turned to me and said: “We’re not posting any photos to Facebook or anything.” And while I had speculated that might have been the reason all along, I wasn’t sure until that moment. So of course it prompted a conversation where I learned that the boy’s father is eager to post photos and share the news with his loved ones near and far, but his mother is concerned about exposing him to all the malicious people in the world. It was an interesting debate, and one that I suspect the two of them will be discussing for a long time as social media continues to grow even more pervasive in our lives, and if nothing else, until the day their young son tells them that he’s opened his own account. Which probably isn’t all that far off…
I adhere to my own version of social media guidelines for posting images of my daughter (YouTube is off limits, but Facebook and Instagram which are a tad more “controlled” is OK) but there are obviously millions of people out there who are not limiting their children’s exposure whatsoever. Is it risky? Sadly, I think it probably is. Of course, malicious people are everywhere and may have simply seen your child walking down the street with you one day, but what about the predators who sit online and look for victims? It’s not so far fetched. And social media has made it so that there is virtually no privacy left in the world among friends as well as strangers. Only time will tell what the outcome will be but I say using your best judgement and limiting your children’s exposure is probably the best approach.
Now, what about the children out there who are exposed to millions of people on a regular basis? Child actors have been in the spotlight and have had their safety compromised long before social media ever came along. Are their parents exceptionally irresponsible or do they have their children’s best interest in mind? (Setting them up for life financially v. potentially putting them at risk.) That’s a whole separate debate that I won’t get into here, and regardless of where I stand on the issue, I am certainly grateful for the adorable faces that have been gracing primetime of late. Especially as a parent, I’ve found the new wave of TV shows centered around these impossibly cute babies quite delightful. Up All Night featured one of the most adorable babies I’ve ever seen – when the show was cancelled I think I was most upset about not being able to see her anymore. I literally could not watch her in a scene without saying “She is so cute!” every single time. I also was a huge fan of (the orignal) Lily Pritchett on Modern Family. It may sound horribly offensive to be favoring one tiny young actor over another, but the reality is that the original Lily was simply cuter! C’mon, you might not say it out loud, but you know you agree! That’s not to say that the current Lily isn’t as equally likable, and I’ll hand it to her, she can certainly deliver a line. Lastly, while I don’t watch the show, I do enjoy the commercials for Raising Hope featuring another incredibly cute little tot. Whatever it was that made TV execs tug at all our heartstrings by bringing these tiny people into our homes each week, it was a stroke of genius, and I hope for everyone’s sake that the exposure will ultimately do more good for them than harm.
Amy (Up All Night)
Hope (Raising Hope)
Lily (Modern Family)