DEAR AMY: I am writing to you regarding people sharing pictures of children in the buff on Facebook, Instagram or other social media. I have a girlfriend who constantly posts naked pictures of her 3-year-old son. Even worse, some of these photos were taken on a public beach. Imagine the looks from others as they stroll by! To me, this is not only distasteful, but also dangerous. I am afraid that some of the “friends” from Facebook or Instagram could be pedophiles who might take advantage of this innocent boy! I discussed this with my mother and her mother, and both women are concerned. When we suggested to the friend’s mother that she should discuss this with her daughter, she said she would get defensive and maybe stop talking to her. I want to confront her about this through a private message. How can I approach this?
DEAR CLOTHED: I think this practice is risky (and disrespectful to the child, who cannot consent).
Those photos can wind up anywhere (well beyond her own Facebook circle), and the photos of these innocent children can be grabbed and shared by pedophiles, who will hoard and trade them. The pictures will also surface off and on for the rest of the child’s life.
I am not offended by the sight of a nude young child at the beach, but in this day of secret photographing and photo-sharing, I agree that this, too, carries risks.
Reacting to posts and photos is expected on social media sites.
Rather than privately soliciting opinions about this and gossiping about it, you should feel free to share your point of view with the mother posting these photos.
I suggest sending her a private message and saying, “I really enjoy seeing pictures of your adorable son on Facebook and Instagram, but I worry that any nude pictures can fall into the wrong hands and be shared well beyond your own circle of trusted friends. I hope you’ll think about possible unintended consequences when you post photos.”
All kids deserve to have adults in their lives who respect and guard their privacy. Children are completely defenseless when it comes to the questionable judgment of their parents.
DEAR AMY: My grandmother is 78 and lost her husband about 10 years ago. I’ve noticed during the past five years that she has become very lonely and likes to do ALL the talking. Due to the distance between us, I am only able to see her one or two times a year and for only one or two days per visit. Spending time with her is not fun anymore. She never asks about me, my future husband, my upcoming wedding, etc. She doesn’t even ask me, “How are you doing?” Our entire visit consists of her reminiscing about her past, and she will even cry over certain events, which results in my consoling her. When it is time for me to leave after staying for a couple days, I feel as if I didn’t get to actually talk to her. I feel like we are missing out on these years we have together. I hope this doesn’t make me seem selfish. I love my grandmother dearly; we used to talk until the cows came home, and it’s not the same anymore. I want to talk to her about it, but I am afraid I will hurt her feelings. What should I do?
DEAR WORRIED: You should be honest with your grandmother about your concerns: “Grammy, I’m worried about you. You seem so sad...”
It sounds as if she might be depressed. Older people are just as likely as anyone else to become depressed, but they aren’t routinely screened for depression. Diagnosis and treatment could be a game changer for her. Speak to your parents (and/or her) about this.
Also, if you correspond with her by email or snail mail in between your visits, you will basically have the opportunity to tell her whatever news you have regarding your own life. Then when you are with her, you can say, “Remember how I wrote to you that I’m engaged? I have some pictures of my fiance — do you want to see them?”
DEAR AMY: The question from “Sad” broke my heart. Sad’s younger sister was abusing the party drug Molly, and Sad was upset because her sister was mad at her when she intervened. I wish more people cared enough to intervene and let a family member be mad at them. Anger fades.
DEAR SAD: Exactly.