Is it safe?

Babies and toddlers are just too cute for their own good.

My husband believes that God deliberately made babies and toddlers irresistibly cute so that parents will not abandon them, no matter how horrible their tantrums can get. Also, parents will have the baby memories to look back to and decide that all the horrible teen stuff is worth it.

He thinks this is also why we care so much about mammals, especially baby mammals. After all, there are no “cute” snakes nor crocodiles.

With the Internet phenomenon, parents also have the added difficulty of resisting posting their adorable baby photos on Facebook and Instagram. This is just the new techie version of how our parents and grandparents would whip out the family album and show guests your baby pictures in all your naked glory.

My main issue here is that the Internet is forever.

In the past, the oldies do not show every person your baby pictures. They discriminate on who to show their family treasures to. These are close relatives and close friends – people whom they trust and love. Thus, your sweet behind is in safe hands, seen by fond eyes.

These days, it’s instant gratification. Your super bouncy, chubby baby ball is just too cute not to share with the world!

We post a cutesy photo and refresh our browser every few minutes to check who of our family and friends have already seen and clicked or the photos.

Their antics and smartness in school are also too good to pass up.

In the old days, we use the telephone and call our relatives one by one to announce that our sioti just won the school spelling bee, or achi just got first honors! These days, we just post one photo of the awarding ceremonies and we’re good to go.

I doubt if we can stop ourselves. We are bursting with pride and want the world to know. Who could blame us?

But I think it is best to be more circumspect in the types of photos we post. Ask yourself this before posting:
“Is it safe?”

I have seen children’s school IDs online, especially those who are entering nursery or first grade. Or, if not a school ID, it is the child himself in complete school uniform that has a school patch on the pocket. This milestone is definitely a very proud moment for all parents.

But is it safe? No. The parent has basically told the whole world where the child goes to school and given criminals a way to grab your child.

Am I being paranoid? Yes. I would even label my feelings on this as over-the-top-paranoid. As a parent though, I think everyone would agree that when it comes our children’s lives and safety, better paranoid than kidnapped or dead. If it is a school ID, it might even have your home address or the parent’s phone number. Definitely a safety violation.

I have seen group photos of children and their classmates. Is it safe? Unless you secure permission from the parents of those classmates, you might not be safe from their wrath.

To add insult to injury, some of these photos are geo-tagged, meaning the location of these kids are posted as well. Definitely not safe.

Not all parents allow their children’s photos to be posted online, mostly for safety reasons. We do not know other people’s safety issues or conditions. Better to err on the side of caution and avoid posting photos of children and their friends online.

There are moments when our cute and cuddly kids’ antics or misadventures are just too hilarious not to post. They get into such scrapes and embarrassing situations: like that time when your toddler went swimming in the toilet bowl, or when they sat on the bowl with a super scrunched up face trying to do number two.

Is it safe? For the parent, yes. For the child, not so much. Remember, the Internet is forever. When your child gets older, there will be a way for his friends to find these embarrassing pictures and give him a grand roast. Those funny pictures may potentially become fodder for bullying.

On another negative note, there are some parents who post photos of their child who is sick or confined in the hospital.

There are two ways of looking at this. In the Philippines, many do this because they’re asking for prayers. On the other hand, some see this as exploitation.

As adults, we do not post our sickly-looking selves (as in just finished throwing up in the bathroom) online. So why put our pitiful-looking children? If asking for friends and family to pray for our kids’ health, there is no need to put the picture. Simply say they are sick and if the universe would help you pray for your little one.

Additionally, do not announce what hospital they are confined in.

Lastly, and most notoriously – naked pictures. I know bath time is absolutely delightful, especially when your little ones are covered in bubbles, surrounded with bath toys, with their eyes all aglitter and smiles up to heaven.

Is it safe? Absolutely not. One word – predator. Yes, I am definitely paranoid in this regard. My two girls have absolutely no pictures with no clothes on, even as infants. I do not mean that I have photos, but have not shown them to anyone. These photos simply do not exist. I may be carrying my paranoia too far, but no one is hurt by it.

I am a very mobile person. I take public transportation, travel outside Manila probably four to six times a year. What if someone robs me blind and gets my laptop and phone? What if I forget my phone somewhere? Better to not have anything in there.

I know following these rules can give us headaches.

But are they safe? Yes, and they are necessary to keep our precious ones safe. — First published in Tulay Fortnightly, Chinese-Filipino Digest 29, no. 6 (August 23-September 5, 2016): 13.