Plenty of parents post snaps of their children to social media. Here, leadership parenting coach, Sarah Hamaker, explains the things that you should think through before clicking ’upload’.
A recent study found that whopping 94 per cent of UK parents post their children’s images online. The survey by Posterista, a British print website, found that 64 per cent uploaded images of their kids to social media sites three times or more a week and 21 per cent did it at least three times per month. Only six per cent of respondents had never posted photographs of their children on their social media pages. The study also found that pictures of newborns are uploaded to Facebook 57.9 minutes on average after their arrival into this world.
Rebecca Cusey, a managing editor at Christian website Patheos.com, said: “I used to put pictures on Facebook but I don’t even do that anymore, choosing instead to send photos directly to family members and friends. I also don’t tell stories about them to large groups (like Facebook), use their names, ages, schools, schedules, or anything that might identify them online.”
Part of the concern with children’s images and stories being posted online is the potential for harm. Most parents seem to agree that the perceived risk in online postings of their children is less physical and more emotional.
Rebecca said: “I don’t know that posting photos online is a huge risk for safety. I’m more concerned that the kids have privacy and don’t feel like they’re living their life on stage, even in the modern social media kind of way. I’d like them to trust that I’m not going to embarrass them or expose them, even in small ways. I want them to learn to build real relationships over social media ones, or at least make real relationships a priority. Most of all, I want them to tell their own story, not have me tell an idealized version of their story on social media.”
Another concern centres around the information gathering aspects of social media sites. A recent Slate.com article sparked a firestorm when Amy Webb wrote: “When we share even innocent images and information about our kids, we endanger their future anonymity and expose them to data monitoring by governments and private corporations we can’t control.”
Posting photographs and info about your children has its advantages. It’s definitely a fun, easy way to share your life with family and friends, especially those who live far away. But it’s important to exercise caution before clicking on the upload button. Here are some things to think about before you put your children online;
Examine your motives
Why are you putting that picture of your child online? Is it to put an idealised version of yourself out there to be judged? “If 50 people don’t like the cute Instagram of your toddler, does that mean she’s not cute? If people don’t like your son’s adorable lemonade stand on Facebook, does that mean he’s not adorable?” asked Rebecca. “And that’s just the public version. What would people think if they saw the tantrums and battiness and bad behavior? I think we need to realize that everything about our lives is not necessarily someone else’s business.”
Watch your usage
Those of us who use social media to connect with clients, fans or customers need to be especially careful of posting things about our children. Rebecca said: “In the blogging world, it would be easy to put them out there to build a brand. We’re all building brands now, but when your career is writing, your brand is directly linked to your income. It would actually be a version of pimping them out. I don’t want my children to be part of my brand—I want them to be my kids.”
Take safety precautions
At the very least, turn off the GPS tagging features on your smartphones. Don’t mention the location of the photograph.
Keep private things private
The intimate details of your children’s lives should not become fodder for social media to gobble up. It’s so important to have good judgement and not share details of a child’s medication or of them playing naked or in a swimsuit in the sea or of their bad behaviour.
Follow your own rules
Each family needs to think about how they want to view and use social media. Rebecca said: “I made rules for myself that have become habits. No matter how beautiful or funny the photo is, if it shows their face or identifies them in another way, I won’t use it. I also don’t post when it’s their birthday.”
Protect your kids
Above all, parents should not forget that one of our primary goals as parents is to guard our children online as well as in person. Rebecca said: “We should have their backs. We should protect them even from things that might not be that big a deal, but are slightly detrimental. We should consider the effect of putting everything out there to be judged.”