Jill White never knew snapping a quick beach picture of her daughter could become such a hot topic so fast. But it did, and honestly I’m not surprised. As the amount of nude bathtub and potty training pictures continue to regularly find a way onto newsfeeds across America, the issue of childhood nudity on social media is taking a front row seat in the public eye. Now that this picture of Jill’s daughter’s bare bottom is viral, moms are coming out of the woodworks to debate it. If you haven’t heard about this front page story yet, here’s the quick run down: after posting this picture to the Coppertone Facebook page because Jill thought she looked like the vintage Coppertone girl, Facebook flagged the initial bare bottom photo. They cited that it violated their nudity/pornography criteria. Jill was given the option to delete the picture or change her privacy settings. When she refused to do either, Facebook banned her from their site for 24 hours. After being allowed back on Facebook, she came back in full force, added the emoji you see to the picture on the right and said this, “It’s hard being a photographer to change your privacy settings to FRIENDS ONLY so I have to be a PUBLIC person,” White wrote. “I’m not ashamed in anyway of WHO I AM or what I do. I will continue to post and be the person I know I am. I will not let anyone get the best of me and I will always fight for what I believe in.”

What??? 

Parents, you should be concerned. I am.

Let’s think about this historically:

  • Circa 1980’s: This mom would have told the kid that was publicly undressing her toddler to knock it off and then pulled up her kid’s swimsuit.
  • Circa 1990’s: This mom would have thought about snapping a quick picture to hide in a family photo album for future hilarious blackmail and then probably decide against it.
  • Circa 2000’s: This mom would take that picture, share publicly on her personal page and with a business that is followed by 349,557 people (Coppertone), and finally, become outraged if it is removed due to her child’s nudity.

Talk about change! The impact that social media has is huge and it is definitely affecting our children whether we like it or not. Now, I am not disagreeing that some people think this picture is “cute” and harmless. In and of itself, it is cute. As a child of the 1990’s, I have many embarrassing “cute” pictures tucked away in a baby book somewhere at my mom’s house (potty training footage, running around in the backyard sprinkler after deciding that swimsuits were unnecessary, you get the idea… I think I have blocked the rest). And today, I am thankful for that. I am thankful that I can’t go back on my mom’s newsfeed and find that these “cute” pictures are now public property. I’m thankful that my “cute” pictures didn’t go viral. I’m thankful that my mom decided to keep these “cute” pictures to herself.

Here are a few of my thoughts as a pediatric nurse practitioner who discusses online safety with families frequently:

  1. If your child runs for president someday, would he/she like to discover the picture you are posting online? What about even running for high school president? What do we do when those pictures mom posted are found by your child’s junior high classmates and shared around their school? Was Jill thinking about her daughter’s future when she posted this picture? I don’t think so. In 10 years (or probably sooner), this Coppertone wannabe will be opening her own facebook account and she will be keenly aware that thousands and thousands of people saw her naked butt just because her mom felt like she had the right to put it out there for everyone. We have never seen a generation whose every move (eating, sleeping, pooping, bathing, you name it) was documented in public photography and subsequently broadcasted on a world-wide forum. When our toddlers grow up, how are they going to feel about this? Let’s consider this before we post that “cute” picture. Some “cute” pictures are best shared between mom and grandma.
  2. We can’t pretend that predators aren’t real. They are real, and they are growing. Just because you don’t intend for a picture of your child to be sexual doesn’t mean that predators don’t sexualize it. It’s a really sad reality. Here are some sobering facts from www.internetsafety101.org:
  • Child pornography is a $3 billion dollar industry. Yes, $3 billion. That is a sickeningly huge market of people interested in pictures of children.
  • Dr. Michael Seto of the International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children estimates that 3% of the male population is aroused by pedophilic stimuli. Let’s put that into perspective. For every random group of 10,000 men, approximately 30 of them look at children in ways you wouldn’t want to imagine. The content you post and who its available to matters.
  • There are over 747,408 registered sex offenders in the United States and over 100,000 are lost in the system.
  • 65% of online sex offenders used the victim’s social networking site to gain home and school information about the victim.
  • 69% of all victims in child abuse images are between the ages of 0 and 10 years old.

Protecting the innocence and privacy of our children online is extremely important; more important than posting a picture of a swimsuit being taken off your toddler’s bottom. Coppertone has since covered up their 1953 bottom-baring child, and now it’s time that we reevaluate what type of pictures of our children should we be adding to the never-ending memory of the online world.

Do Naked Photos of your Children have a Place in Social Media?
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Do Naked Photos of your Children have a Place in Social Media?
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What do you think? Do naked photos have a place in social media? I would love to hear your comments!