Why Parents Should Not Overshare Photos on Social Media
YOUR 6-YEAR-OLD SON made you the sweetest Mother’s Day card. Your teen scored the winning soccer goal. Your daughter just turned 11. You want to share pictures of these events and accomplishments. No harm, right? Consider this: the average child has had 1,500 pictures posted online by parents before the age of 5. You mean no harm, but when you publicly share photos, you reduce the benefits of your family’s special private times and traditions, and it may hurt your child.
Why Privacy Really Matters to Kids
Relationship. “When parents over post, I believe it changes the nature of the parent-child relationship,” says Richard Freed, PhD, author of “Wired Child.” Parents go from experiencing moments of shared experiences with their children to focusing on perfect photos and videos for their life online.
“The phone replaces the more important high-fiving a child and looking them in the eye and saying ‘nice going’ when they performed well or learned to ride a bike. It leads kids to feeling that they are to perform rather than simply be who they are,” he says.
Attachment. Gordon Neufeld, PhD, makes a strong argument for building family attachment in his book “Hold on to Your Kids.” Your private family traditions, rituals and memories attach your child to your family. When you share those sacred moments, that attachment may weaken.
Individuality. Privacy helps your child maintain autonomy and individuality. By middle school, children learn to define who they are partly by exercising power over information that is shared about themselves. They need to determine what they want to be known by in order to gain independence.
Anxiety. Family privacy is really important to preserve. Wouldn’t it be strange if all of your work-related accomplishments (and failures) were randomly posted on social media by your boss? Feeling like they are the center of their parent’s world is stressful for kids.
“The more the kids feel like they are the center of their parent’s world, the more they feel the burden of their parent’s happiness,” says Dawn Woods, a Charlotte-area teen counselor.
Trust and respect. Broadcasting private family moments can breach trust. Closely related to trust, your child needs to know you respect him even if you don’t see what’s wrong with posting his report card. Respect can be built by not sharing too much personal information about someone.
Modeling. If you send the message that it is OK for you to share photos of your kids, they may assume that it is OK for them to share photos of you on their social media. The Golden Rule (treat others the way you want to be treated) applies here.
How to Post Pictures of Your Kids
Even if you ask your child’s permission to post a photo, he wants to please you, so he will most likely say it is OK. When you get the itch to post, consider this:
* When in doubt, don’t post!
* Wait 48 hours to share. When given some time, you may decide it’s not so important after all to share those pictures.
* Be honest. If you are sharing your kids’ accomplishments to get “likes” or other forms of social applause for your parenting skills, resist.
* Determine what your social-media-free family events are: birthdays, family trips, etc.
* Print a digital scrapbook for your family instead. They will love it especially if you journal your family memories.
* Consider a small private social media group for extended family only to share family photos.
* Think back to your childhood and ask yourself how you would feel if your parents posted every moment — the mundane, the momentous, the embarrassing — of your life. Keep those private family memories in photo albums and scrapbooks, and off social media.
Melanie Hempe is the founder of Families Managing Media. For more information, visit familiesmanagingmedia.com.