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Posted on Sun, Oct 4, 2009 : 6:39 a.m.

Privacy also a concern with online photos of children

By Jen Eyer

Although there seems to be very little safety risk in putting photos of your kids online, Anne Collier, founder and executive director of Net Family News, says there are other concerns parents should consider.

One is the child's privacy.

"We forget that the Internet is just as public as a school assembly or a parent-teacher night," Collier said. "It's a public forum, and we want to protect them and their reputation and their social lives."

That's the reason Todd Waller doesn't post photos of his children, aged 5 and 3, online. A real estate agent in Ann Arbor, Waller puts information about himself online for business reasons. He maintains a public Facebook page , which he says helps potential clients get to know him.

But he wants his kids' eventual online activity to be their choice.

"I want my kids to jump on whatever bandwagon they want, and not be forced onto it because I'm so stinkin' proud and I have their photos pasted everywhere," Waller said.

Cynthia Bostwick, who blogs under her real name and whose son is now 5, said if he ever decides he doesn't want her to blog anymore, she will respect his wishes.

"It's not like I tell family secrets, anyway," Bostwick said. "That kind of blogging where you're putting your intimate relationships out there is kind of odd to me, but I wouldn't talk about that stuff to my neighbor, either."

There is also the possibility that someone will swipe your child's image online and use it for their own purposes.

In May, a Missouri mom discovered that her family's portrait had been lifted from her blog and used in a life-sized advertisement in a Czech grocery store.

To avoid that happening to you, experts suggest only posting low-resolution photos, which don't enlarge well, or including a digital watermark on the photos. Other tips include:

  • Consider licensing through Creative, where you can specify whether a photo can be used for commerical purposes. You can note that if a photo is reused, it must be attributed to you.
  • Flickr has a mechanism that prevents an image from being copied. Although most hackers can crack this type of software, it will deter those looking for an easy image to grab.
  • Learn how to use Flash to imbed your photos in a blog, rather than using jpeg images. It’s harder to copy images from Flash.
  • Create a very unique file name for the photos you post, and you can periodically search Google images for those file names.

Related story:
• Parents, safety advocates debate safety of publishing photos of children

Jen Eyer is on the Community Team at She can be reached at 734-623-2577 or, or you can visit her at 301 East Liberty.


Mona Shand

Sun, Oct 4, 2009 : 7:51 p.m.

Definitely an interesting topic. Personally, I have no fears putting pictures of my kids up on websites like Facebook to share with friends or family. I think we have to balance fear with fun, and for me fun wins on that one. But when the TV station where I was working wanted to put a photo of my newborn son on the air I said no. That felt like a massive privacy invasion and I wasn't willing to go there!