We all love to share pictures and updates about ourselves and our family on social media, but we need to draw the line at what we share about our kids. Social media allows us to do some pretty amazing things, including sharing our lives with distant family and friends. As a parent myself, I thoroughly enjoy sharing family pictures with my network of friends on social media. However, we, as parents, have a huge sense of responsibility to our kids when posting and sharing content that is about them. For everything we share or send, there is a digital footprint that is difficult to take back once it’s imprinted. I often find myself looking at some of the things people post about their kids on social media and screaming in my head “Really? That’s just TMI!!!” I wonder how these shared moments could affect these kids down the road. As parents, we need to keep our kids safe and lead by example, which may even require revising our own online habits and ensuring our social pages, messages, and blogs are appropriate.
Here are six things that you need to think again before posting on social media:
1) Naked pictures of your kids– As cute as your kids are to you when they are having fun during bath time, please do not post pictures of your kids exposed in the bathtub or running around naked. You don’t know which friend of a friend is looking at your child in a less than appropriate way! It’s simply not worth the risk of those pictures getting into the wrong hands. Most social networks employ censorship guidelines, but we should take these guidelines a step further. If a photo could be misconstrued as being sexual or suggestive in nature, just don’t post it. Where you personally draw the line at what age (of the kids) it becomes an issue and what you think is ‘suggestive’ is purely subjective, but think about it for a moment before you hit “post”!
2) Important personal information/ ID– Sure it’s OK to be excited about your kid passing that driver’s test, but please don’t post a picture of your child’s permit or license with all the personal identification information such as date of birth, social security number, hair and eye color. Redundant and dangerous! You are giving scammers all that they need for a successful identity theft.
3) Their failures- I’m all for bragging about your kid’s accomplishments. What better way to tell your kids how proud you are about them and boost their self esteem. But when I see parents complain about their kids’ failures or even short comings in public, it’s just unacceptable. If you can get off the screen and spend that time actually talking to your kid about their problems, instead of posting, periodically checking the “likes and comments” and replying to the same, you can do a lot more good for your kid’s success.
4) Rants about their teachers or coaches online- OK; your child had a bad day at school, or even a bad year because of a not-so-great teacher or coach. Instead of airing your kids’ dirty laundry in public, go meet with the concerned people and work things out with them. Spend time in school meetings and counselling. Some of these things might have an easy fix. Complaining and eliciting toxic responses from the community and blowing things out of proportion, just because you felt the urge to post something instigative that day, might have just cost you the chance to smooth things out easily, now that the coach has heard the highly contorted version of your concerns from your “well-wisher friend”.
5) Their relationships– Frequent updates about your relationship status are hard enough for others to understand and follow please don’t expose your teen’s emotions in public. They already have enough roller-coaster of emotions and peer pressures to deal with. The last thing she needs is a friend of a friend, whose mother is social media friends with you, to ask her why she broke up with that guy last week. It’s their life, respect their privacy. If she wants to talk about it, she will.
6) Details about your kids’ health issues- Agreed we are all looking for support when our loved ones are not well. But when your child is running a fever or has a broken bone, please put down the camera, step away from the screen and go take care of them! I’m sure that if your child had a choice, they want to look their best too (like you do) and does not appreciate a picture of them looking tired and run down on the emergency room bed. So if you should post, keep the details and description minimal. We talk so much about patient privacy rules and rights, but what about the privacy rights of our little ones? Or do we think that they just don’t have any!?
We love our kids and would do anything to keep them safe and happy. What we don’t realize is the internet and online communication gives a false sense of security because we are sharing information with the world from the comfort and security of our homes. But it is just as open and nefarious as making a radio announcement about your child’s failure or a TV ad of their naked pictures. So, tread carefully about how much and what you want to share, especially about your kids. Our kids trust us completely to protect them, so let’s make sure we uphold that trust.