Before I had my son I was convinced I would not be one of those moms who posts pictures and updates about every milestone on social media…but here I am, 3 months later doing just that! I have my reasons for deciding to go ahead with posts, but I remember those days of feeling anxiety about it and I still tread carefully when I do decide to share something. My biggest concerns are my child’s safety and privacy. When I was a child, my parents showed me off with wallet photos and printed coffee table albums. They didn’t have to worry about my image, along with any other personal information they chose to share, being stored in gigantic databases to do God knows what with. The fact is that personal data is more valuable than money these days and social media networks understand that better than a majority of their users. In fact, it is surprising how companies like Facebook use our data once we hand it over to them.
So, the question remains: Should parents post about their children online? When it comes to sharing personal information where to our rights end and our children’s begin? Here are some things you might want to consider before you share your next post about your kids.
Be aware of your privacy settings.
Every social media network I’m familiar with offers a way to adjust your privacy settings. As parents, opting for the basic or default settings may not meet our personal comfort levels when it comes to our children. If your intentions are to only share photos and updates about your babies with friends and family you will need to make some adjustments to your privacy settings. You have to be careful how you go about doing this. Some social media outlets, such as Facebook, have shortcuts to the privacy settings that don’t actually give you all of the options available to you. Click here to learn how to bypass the shortcut and access your full security options. Make a conscious effort to review the privacy settings on all your social media apps to make sure they are aligned with your intentions and comfort level as a parent.
Put yourself in their shoes.
Ignorance is no excuse for needlessly embarrassing your children, ask any teenager! How do you know if what you are about to share will hurt their feelings or get them teased? Well, a good policy is: if you have to ask, don’t post it! If you have children in their teens you want to be especially careful about the public comments you make on their social networks. There are lots of tips out there for parents who are new to the age of social media. Just remember, that unless you use the private message function, odds are all of your child’s friends can see what you are about to post, so stop and ask yourself how would you have felt if your mom/dad had said this in front of all your friends.
Consider your intentions.
Intentions are important in everything we do in life. As a holistic wellness practitioner it is my job to teach people how their intentions help them manifest the life they do (or don’t) desire. When you are posting about or to your children take the time consider why you are doing it. Why do you feel the need to share what you are sharing? Is it for attention or to make you look good via the achievements of your child? Do you simply want to share a happy moment with friends and family? Are you hoping to help someone else by openly discussing some of the challenges you face as a parent? Simply taking a few moments to reflect on your intentions when you share something personal about your children can make a world of difference. A friend of mine wrote a post about this topic on her blog The One With the Cupcakes. This is what she said:
I do believe that deciding what we share on the internet is a delicate matter. For one, it’s a very permanent thing. And for another, it reaches a wider audience. I have a general rule about not over-sharing negative things about anyone on the world wide web. If I had a disagreement with Steve about something, I wouldn’t share it here. If a friend did something I didn’t like, or hurt me in some way, I wouldn’t write a blog post about it. I hold my relationships sacred enough to know that I wouldn’t want a moment of frustration to be left a permanent mark against their character or mine. And I regard my relationship with my children as even more sacred. Someday they may read this blog. And I would want them to know that more than anything else, I loved them. I cherished them. I made myself crazy trying to think of how to do what was best for them. Because at the end of the day, that is what is true. That is what I hope will last and those are the thoughts that I hope will stand the test of time.
Check in with your partner.
Hopefully, you have a partner with whom you are raising your kid/s (if not, my hat goes off to you! single parents amaze me…). As with any difficult parenting decision we have to make, it can help consulting your partner first. Not only does your partner have an equal say in matters that effect your children, but he or she might be able to help you make a more informed decision. I also find that talking to my husband about decisions I find tricky to navigate takes a little bit of the pressure off me. Your partner is there to share the joys and burdens of parenthood with you. Make sure you lean on each other appropriately!
It boils down to opinions.
You know what they say about opinions. Opinions are like assholes, everyone has one and they all stink. It’s true, though, isn’t it? Especially when it comes to parenting! Everyone has their own idea of how children should be raised, and unfortunately many people don’t mind giving you their unsolicited advice. Just remember, you don’t have to agree with everyone who shares their opinions with you, but sometimes it is a good thing to reflect on what others have to say, especially if you are not sure how you feel about it.
In regards to posting personal information about my child I have come to the conclusion that I am OK with it. I take precautions to protect his privacy and keep him safe. I also make sure to only share what I think could be helpful or beautiful to others. Ultimately, I like sharing because I like to make people smile. My son brings me an immense amount of joy and it feels good to share that joy with others. I try not to post constantly, because I do think it is important just to savor the little moments with him, but every so often I will think of my friends and family who are far away and I post a little something for them. I especially like SnapChat because it allows me to privately send pictures and videos to my husband while he is at work.
Now you know what I think, but I’m curious about other parents. What is your opinion? How can parents learn from one another and inspire each other while still respecting our children’s privacy? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!