I used to be jealous that social media didn't exist when my kids were little. I would look at adorable photos others posted of their babies and toddlers and wish I could have taken advantage of the technology, too.
Now? I think parents have gone overboard.
It's not just that I don't need to read about a toddler's potty training travails or see every little amazing thing your kid does all the time. It's that I worry about kids' privacy in the long run. It's also because I'm guilty of posting to social media and revealing things about my kids' lives, too.
It's time we get permission to put stuff about our kids online.
I already mentioned I'm guilty as charged.
I used to post funny things my kids said until one of them told me, "Mom, don't put that on Facebook." That happens a lot now, before I can even ask them if it's OK. I'll admit it's really hard for me to not automatically share cool or funny things about them, but it's my job as their mom to ask before posting, especially since one's a teen and the other is a tween.
Dr. Fran Walfish, child and family psychotherapist and author of The Self-Aware Parent, agrees with me.
"Your child is struggling between standing on her own two feet and needing close proximity to you for dependence and comfort," she explains. "You don't want to add gasoline and a log to an already burning fire. Always ask your tween/teen's permission before acting impulsively and posting info/photos online. Once you push 'post,' it's out there forever."
Obviously, you can't get social media permission from your baby or toddler. But you can pause for a moment before posting.
The online privacy issue goes far beyond pictures and tales of tantrums. Daily, I see parents post about their kids' health issues and school problems — incredibly personal stuff. I understand it can be cathartic and even helpful to share these things, but I wonder if eventually it will hurt you or your child more than it will help.
"So, when thinking about posting photos of your infant on Facebook or news about your toddler potty training, walking, talking or graduating Harvard, please consider the potential future ramifications when your child is an adolescent and his friends find these pictures of him online," says Walfish. "Might they be used as weapons to tease, taunt or bully him later in life?"
Bottom line? No one knows for sure, but we all know what goes online stays online. Forever.
I think it's time parents spend a little more time thinking about what they post online about their kids.
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