In a recent Instagram post, Keeping Up With the Kardashians star Kylie Jenner noted that she is no-longer sharing pictures of her 4-month old daughter Stormi Webster on social media. Jenner had already removed all previous photos she had posted of her baby. Considering that as a professional Kardashian, Jenner has made a very lucrative career of oversharing, the move came as a surprise. Even more surprising? The decision makes Kylie something of a role model for young parents who could afford to share a bit less.
This isn’t the first time Jenner has brought parental privacy concerns to light. In fact, she largely kept her recent pregnancy from the gaze of social media in order to “prepare herself” for motherhood. It’s actually incredibly commendable that the reality star would take such great pains to keep important moments private. It is worth noting, however, that she wasn’t always on the privacy tip. Though Kylie favors selfies and pictures with her new husband Travis Scott, there were plenty of baby pics for her to delete.
The important thing is that she did delete them. As with all things parenting, it’s less about getting it right the first time and more about getting to right over time.
At an American Academy of Pediatrics meeting in 2016, a panel of pediatricians spoke to the problems kids can face when parents post their photos online. Some of the dangers included identity theft, photos being appropriated for child porn websites, and use of the images as fodder for cyber-bullying. Not to mention, they cited a study in which children were twice as likely as parents to want strict rules as to what their parents post online.
As parents, we struggle to find the right balance in what we share on social media. In one respect, we feel our child-rearing experience is benign enough that there’s no harm in posting photos of our daily lives. At the same time, we feel those same moments are noteworthy enough to share it with friends. But the problem is that we don’t consider how our children feel about the sharing, or how they might feel about it in the future. We take away their agency when placing their images on social forums for people we think our friends. But do we really know those hundreds of people?
What we lack, in many respects, is a good editor (Editor’s Note: Right here, buddy!). Maybe Jenner recognizes that more than most parents. After all, her life has been lived in front of cameras, but only a fraction of what those cameras capture ever make it to the television screen. There is someone behind the scenes who is thoughtfully manipulating the content for maximum impact. They know what to cut out and what to keep in.
Jenner is acting as a very strong editor for her social feed. She’s making a decision about her relationship with the public that affects her “brand.” That’s super commendable. She could have made a lot of money shouting out adorbs onesies and fire strollers. In a sense, her decision will make her seem more self-obsessed — the same Instagram post where she announced in the comments her intention to keep her daughter private was a carefully crafted doe-eyed selfie — but it’s proof that she isn’t. She understands that her daughter isn’t an extension of herself. That public acknowledgment? Good for the brand.
And honestly, more parents should consider cropping their kids out. I know I’m guilty of over-sharing pictures of my kids and frankly, Jenner reminds me of why, maybe, that’s not such a great idea. At least until they are old enough to tell me it’s okay to share the picture of their ridiculous costume, or their shirtless rock-song performance.
In the meantime, I can share all of the benign but maybe meaningful photos of my own dad life. Will my friends get tired of seeing my face and not the sweet grins of my children? Probably. After all, I’m no Kardashian beauty. But they’ll just have to deal with my hairy face until my boys can agree to have their own plastered on my timeline.