As parents, we often want to not just document our children’s lives, we also want to share these special moments with our friends! Since social media took off a decade ago, we’ve seen a huge increase in the number of kids’ pictures and videos. Shockingly, one survey found that 92% of children had some sort of an online presence by the time they were 2 years old!
Although it’s fun to get likes and comments on how cute our kids are, there are certainly downsides, even dangers, to putting their images on the internet. Here are 4 guidelines to follow when posting our kiddos online:
What’s Your Reasoning?
First, consider why it is that you want everyone to see these pictures or hear these funny stories about your family. Are you trying to share certain moments with people you care about, or are you possibly trying to impress someone or brag? At its core, social media is about attention, and attention isn’t always a bad thing! We all need an appropriate kind and healthy amount of it. Still, consider whether you’re trying to fill a void, looking for validation, or trying to “keep up with the Jones’s”. If you are, it may be a good idea to try to work through these emotional challenges instead of posting countless pictures of your toddler.
When your child is old enough and you’re wanting to post a picture or update, ask him/ her if it’s okay. We may think posting about our kids is flattering or funny, but they may consider it embarrassing or personal. If a child says no, honor that request! Also, by asking for permission, you’re modeling to your children what healthy boundaries and consent means, as they get a choice as to whether or not they want to share parts of their life with the online world.
Consider Potential Outcomes
If you post a photo that gets a lot of likes, will your child feel like getting attention should be a top priority? Will he/she feel pressure to live up to a picture-perfect ideal? Will comments like, “she’s so cute!” cause a young girl to get her self identify from her physical appearance? Be mindful of what an overload of social media posting can do for the way children think about themselves.
Think About Safety
The tragic truth is that people with evil intentions of harming children often get their start by viewing pictures and information about them online. Be careful in the details you post: does the internet world really need to know the name of the vacation resort your family is staying at? Don’t accept friend requests from people you don’t know, and consider tightening up your privacy settings for the sake of your children (one woman I know had an open Instagram account but changed it to closed when she had children). Most of us know the obvious guidelines of internet safety (not giving out our address or phone number), but these days even subtle details can give clues to bad people. Think carefully about how to keep your children safe.