To post or not to post your kids on social media. That is the question.
Just as the Fourth of July and Christmas will come every year, so will the pictures of my friends’ kids on my Facebook newsfeed: the first days of school, the birthdays, the milestones. Some of those photos make me wonder—how will that kid feel when he grows up and finds his grubby chocolate face for all of FB to see? Or worse, how will the little girl feel when she sees the ‘Hey, I just got potty trained!’ photo of herself, pants down, standing by a toilet?
Sharing pictures and posts online allows me to stay connected with family and friends. I’ll be honest, after I post something, I do occasionally look back to see how many “likes” it’s garnered. Admittedly, I’ll click to see who has acknowledged my post and “liked” it.
A parent on average will post almost 1,000 photos of a child online before the child turns 5, according to a recent Wall Street Journal article. Wow! Actually come to think about it, parent friends on my newsfeed are probably right in line with this.
Recently I discussed with my friends on Facebook posting photos of my children. The topic is quite polarizing. A heavy line of demarcation seems to exist: many are on the Pro side of posting kids’ photos, but there is also a powerful Against constituency. While I can see both views, my own feet are firmly planted on one side of this thick line. But before I divulge which one, I offer some facts and arguments posed in this Wall Street Journal article.
PRO (viewpoint shared by Lauren Apfel, a writer and mother): Posting pictures of your child is a way to connect with your social media community for support with child rearing. It promotes engagement with others whom your post may unknowingly touch. Advocates say it is bound to happen anyway in the future. Parents can then potentially be role models for what is posted and then ask permission of their child when he or she is old enough to approve. Sharing photos is a constant part of a child’s life and the benefits of sharing outweighs the risks.
AGAINST (shared by Morgan G. Ames, a postdoctoral scholar): The challenge of putting a child at risk now because of privacy concerns (most parents don’t bother checking their privacy settings) and/or embarrassing them later is great. A posted picture could potentially follow a child from birth through their lifetime as the child’s data profile and their information is available to marketers. It is also difficult to control re-sharing. If you think you are just sharing to your own audience, someone can then share to their own audience and so on. Children don’t have control over how they are being portrayed and may not understand how a cute photo now might come back to haunt them in the future.
Here is my take on the issue from my social media feed:
My original post was about a rat, dead and fly-ridden, that I discovered while playing with my young son in the middle of John Jay playground.
Keira: That’s disgusting. Did someone remove it? It’s mostly awful because i want to see pic of your kid not a nasty rat
Wendy: She doesn’t post her kids (well she does her dog). I guess she doesn’t really love them
Me: I don’t love you. Don’t bully me on FB about posting pictures of my kids!
Wendy: you do love me!! no bullying!! You have gorgeous kids–admiring fans want to see them
Me: I like keeping them under wraps. When they are officially old enough to have their own social media accounts, they can choose to do want they want online. I can only hope they choose wisely. I do not judge anyone who does anything different on FB.
Wendy: of course I know!! And totally respect that!! Wasn’t meaning to imply you should do anything differently. You shouldn’t. Love you! Love your kids. Xox
Lisa: I’m with you. I don’t post pics of my kids but like seeing everyone else’s kids. I guess I’m a voyeur.
A Facebook Voyeur. Is that what I am? Someone who likes to watch, but doesn’t participate? A reader, but not a poster? Perhaps, but I prefer to think I am my kids’ FB protector. When my son sang his first nursery rhyme and I videotaped it, I understood that feeling of wanting to share its cuteness. And get “likes.” But are the “likes” really that important? Whom and what do the they benefit? My son? Even if he’s embarrassed later? Isn’t it enough that I like/love him?
Oh wait, he just counted to ten this morning for the first time and I captured it on video. You know how hard that is, to get a good video of a two-year-old, right? Perhaps I should post it… maybe just this one time…