Katie Bower is a mommy blogger known for DIY tutorials and constant coverage of her family life. These close glimpses into her home, including pictures of and details about her children, have netted Bower more than 53,000 Instagram followers.
Beyond just posting cute moments and happy memories, Bower recently used her platform to lament that one of her five children gets fewer Internet “likes” than the others. He’s less popular online than his siblings, something she says she’s noticed for years yet has decided to keep exposing him to.
Writing on her son’s sixth birthday, Bower began by explaining why she loves him. But the post pivoted, continuing, “Guys I am gonna be perfectly honest…Instagram never liked my Munchkin and it killed me inside. His photos never got as many likes. Never got comments. From a statistical point of view, he wasn’t as popular with everyone out there. Maybe part of that was the pictures just never hit the algorithm right. Part might be because he was ‘the baby’ for a very short amount of time…And people like babies. I say all that because I want to believe that it wasn’t him…that it was on me. My insufficiency caused this statistical deficit because obviously my Munch should get ALL the love and squinty eyes are totally adorable. ☺️”
Lacking here is an acknowledgement that the person responsible for whether any given picture has found Insta-fame is the one posting it. If Bower dislikes or feels a sense of disquiet about putting her kids online, perhaps it’s because the kids never decided this was important to them. They’re too busy being kids. (Bower later archived the post, saying the “drama was out of hand.”)
I cannot imagine a scenario in which I would use my children for commercial gain or online popularity. I purposefully don’t post pictures of their faces on any of my public social media because I want them to have the ability to decide what images of them are circling the Internet as they grow older. My story is something I can choose to be public, and that’s a decision I make daily as an adult. Sometimes I overshare and regret it deeply. But my story ends where my children’s stories begin, or where their privacy is concerned.
Imagine growing up and having your first girlfriend Google how old you were when you were potty trained, and whether you calmly gave up your diapers or fought to keep them. What if your first boss, when doing an increasingly common social media check, discovers you swore at your parents when you were 10, and told them you hated them?
In what world is this openness about children’s failings and foibles, their wrongdoings, and missteps, helping them become adults? Imagine reading the words your parents wrote in anger about you 20 years prior, when you were a baby and wouldn’t sleep at night or spilled juice on their laptop.
Therein lies my unpopular opinion. Don’t post your kids on open social media. They’re going to grow up with long Internet histories they’ve had no control over. These histories will lurk throughout their lives, coming up when they apply for jobs or when friends or significant others or future in-laws Google them.
None of my friends can tell you how old I was when I started sleeping through the night, or if I sucked my thumb. I’m glad those embarrassing moments are lost in the sands of time, not on page 43 of the search results under my name.
Parents shouldn’t be broadcasting moments of their children’s lives like this. Parents shouldn’t be musing that certain children in their families are less Internet-popular than others. Isn’t the world mean enough without opening children up to that in the safety and circles of their own family?
We can’t take back the things that have been said, and looking at all of the backlash in the last week it’s entirely possible Bower wishes she’d never posted that one of her kids was less popular than another. That’s the awful part of the Internet, though. It’s out there, impossible to recall, despite any regret and pain it’s caused. At this point, it’s time for other families to reevaluate what they post about their children, and consider where, why, and what the future repercussions may be.