We need to have a blunt conversation. I realize this may not be a popular article if you have children and you celebrate them online by posting their photos for public viewing.
There has been a lot of talk about protecting children when they are interactively online but I suggest parents take an even larger step backward and realize even one-way interaction where your children are being viewed by people you do not know is just as dangerous to the welfare of your child as an unmonitored online chat session.
I am all for celebrating your children online! Celebrate them in text only. Don’t show recognizable images of them. My advice is to take all images of your children offline immediately because you don’t know who is out there in the world watching your children grow and have fun. Perhaps you’re even unwittingly serving up your most precious things in life as masturbation fodder for internet perverts.
I realize that sounds rough and crass but for those of you who know the world and recognize the rules of the street, that is precisely the kind of scenario you risk when you place images of your children online. After surfing lots of blogs over the last couple of weeks I was shocked to see how many parents are sharing their children with a stratum of the internet audience who hunger for, but never find satiety in, ogling young children and infants.
The children don’t have to be naked or in a compromising position to provide a thrill. The underbelly freaks I am discussing will take your children however you choose to serve them up because the stimulation for the freak is in the looking and then in the creating of the fantasy.
The context of the image is irrelevant except for the face, size and shape of your child because those people are quite specific in what they wish to watch and the internet provides a large patch to pluck.
Now I may offend you even further by saying: Parents who place images of their children online are Pimps because they use the language of the street that electrifies the mind of the pervert: “Look at my big boys!” “Isn’t my two-year-old daughter sweet in her tutu?” There are likely thousands of pedophiles hiding behind a computer screen somewhere in the world agreeing with every single word you say about your kids.
They are buying the shine you are shilling off your children. Okay, let’s say there aren’t thousands of people out there hunting for children to find, view, save locally and “look at” later. Let’s say there’s just one out there.
Does that lessen the risk? Does that make you feel better that only one pervert is fantasizing over your child instead a thousand? Parents are also sloppy about leaving clues on the internet.
Blogs and websites are filled with easy ways to hunt down children via parental carelessness. Many blogs openly pony up first and last names of family members, jobs, city and state, hobbies and even the full names of the children! This unintended exploitation is the most dangerous kind. Most of us would never consider this ugly side of humanity but the internet is a great leveler — a true Democracy in action — with all its golden moments and bloody warts.
Good people and scummy people all have the same access to a web page and you should, if you are a cautious and loving parent, assume the worst of the world is watching every little thing you do while you do everything within your power to create as many golden moments for your children as possible. Continue their golden journey by taking their pictures offline. Now we have to discuss the issue of consent.
A child is not legally old enough to sign a contract but you, as the parent, decided it is in their best interest to publicly place them on the web for viewing?
How can one condone that attitude and support that behavior if you really want to protect the identity, privacy, and innocence of your children? Even if your child begs you to have images on the internet it is your duty as a thoughtful parent to deny that request in their best interest unless and until you carefully password protect those images and you know precisely who is seeing what you provide.
You know the world is an awful enough place that will eventually beat up all children a bit as they get older, but why accelerate matters by placing them online in the one arena where they are most vulnerable to dangers you, as legal guardian, cannot feel, smell, warn against or even recognize except, perhaps, by the increasing rise in your visitor counter?
You would never send your children naked and alone down a dark street but that’s precisely what you’re doing when you give the World Wide Web unfettered access to your kids on the information super highway. We always warn our children to stay away from strangers while statistics show children are more often molested by those they already know.
Well, the internet is the one place where the invitation to connect with a child is always made first by the very adult charged with protecting them.