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Parental Advisory: When not posting about your kids online freaks you out

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Image: Patrick Heagney/Getty Images

We’ve already seen a rise in popularity among kids with sites like Snapchat that allow users to upload short videos that disappear after 24 hours. And some studies have shown that kids aren’t very interested in documenting every moment of their lives, diary-style, like their parents do. Adults still view social media as a tool that magically allows them to broadcast their daily opinions, 10-mile runs and minute-to-minute updates about their kids. They’re much more fascinated by this new technology than kids are. Kids are mostly unimpressed with updates that don’t offer some kind of entertainment value and see no point in documenting the minutiae of their lives. That’s a huge difference between them and their parents, and that disparity may continue to exist as they get older. Plus, not every kid likes being in daily photo shoots creative directed for the express purpose of being shared online by Mom.

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So do I think your son is going to look back on his youth and wonder why his staid, Luddite mother never posted an regular series of pictures about all his lost baby teeth? No, I don’t. I think for those kids who do grow up with that kind of recorded history, it could be interesting to read through in later years; it could also be as boring as watching a dated movie that doesn’t hold up. And some kids might actually resent their parents for being so open and oversharing about their every movement. Your son, on the other hand, probably won’t look to social media to know that you love and support him, and he won’t have to wonder why you told everyone you know about the time he got a tick on his balls at summer camp. If he ever asks you why you didn’t/don’t share much online, you can explain your feelings and let him know that he’s free to share whatever he wants about his life online, but also that you want to respect his boundaries and teach him to do the same.

It concerns me that kids see their parents taking and posting nonstop photos and craving likes and being stuck in their phones, which indirectly teaches their kids that life inside a computer is more riveting and validating than life in the real world. What you’re doing will set up your kid with a good social media foundation, and I seriously doubt he’ll miss reading the stuff that you didn’t share. I guess the saying about regrets for social media is sort of the opposite of what it is in real life. In real life, we say, “You only regret the things that you didn’t do,” but online, you won’t regret something you never shared. So keep not sharing about your kid online as you see fit. Something tells me he’ll be just fine.

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