Before my son had even arrived, I had come to the conclusion that I wanted to limit his presence on social media, period. This does not mean no pictures of him ever, but it did mean that I wanted my husband or I to be asked before pictures or statuses that featured him were posted (I've shared several of him since he was born and allowed friends and family to do the same). But it does mean caution and respect for my son's privacy, even now as three-month-old.
I have read all about social media and the impact it has on children, how distasteful characters use it to find out way too much about children because of well-meaning parents who want to share their children with their friends and family, and tried to imagine growing up with my baby pictures all over my mother's Instagram. The reality is, I don't know exactly how to handle the prevalence of social media and raising children. I don't really think any of us do. It is still a relatively new platform for us to use; we don't know the influence it can have on them, us, or others. As much as I love mommy accounts on Instagram and YouTube, I wonder how those children are going to feel when they are older and have their entire childhood shared with thousands or even millions of strangers.
I don't think I would like it. I can barely stand my family sharing a home video of my sassy 9th grade self on Christmas morning (the only thing I smiled about was the complete collection of Twilight... how embarrassing). With that being said, I do still want to share about my sweet boy while preserving his childhood and privacy, and I want others to consider the same! Sharing your child's first day of school is great, but consider the sheer amount of information you are sharing with people! Just your general area (Missouri, for example), grade, and teacher's name can tell a savvy Internet user exactly where your child attends school. A post featuring your child's favorite things can clue someone in on how to win them over and invite them into a dangerous situation. But our world is global and we want to share our happy moments with friends and family!
Here are a few suggestions on how to share safely:
1.) Check your privacy settings
Each social media platform has its own options and lingo, but consider that on Facebook alone, allowing friends of friends to see posts opens a door for people you do not know to see all about little Jimmy's adorable bathtub photos. Set your privacy settings with this in mind. If you want to share intimate details about your family's life, try to limit stranger's access to the things that you share and who can share them.
2.) Avoid using names
Naming your child's teacher, school, neighborhood, friends, and child opens the door to a lot of information about them. Call me paranoid all you want, but I'm not crazy about the idea of someone with dangerous intentions being able to find out where my child spends their days or even their overall schedule. Even people you have known your whole life do not need to know that Katie Sue is in 3rd grade at St. John's Elementary with Mr. Park as her teacher.
3.) Choose your pictures wisely
I realize that those naked little baby bums are cute as all get out, but would you want that picture of your infant self being shared and ogled by your mom's hundreds of casual acquaintances? Consider sending those pictures to the people you really want to see them rather than making them available to the masses.
4.) Don't "friend" or follow everyone
Someone you've met two or three times does necessarily need to be a follow on your private account. How much do you really know about that person? Would you invite them into your home or trust them with your child? If not, they probably shouldn't be allowed to just peruse your family's intimate life.
Parent or not, consider carefully who will see it and what information is being shared. Not a parent, be sure to ask before you post! Let's try to protect and respect the children in our lives by being mindful about what we share and who we share it with.