Pros and Cons of Posting about Children on Social Media
Photo courtesy of shutterstock.com
A 2015 Pew Research Center report states that three-quarters of parents use Facebook and, of those parents, 94 percent engage actively. If you are one of those active social media users, have you considered the pros and cons of posting about your children?
1. Social media provides a great way to quickly and comprehensively update friends and family. Carrboro mother of two and Facebook and Instagram poster, Jessica*, says her grandmother follows her on Instagram.
“When I would email her pictures she didn’t know how to view them easily,” Jessica says. “Instagram has video … so she gets to see (her great-grandchildren) in action as well. She loves to scroll through and see smiling baby faces.”
2. Social media offers a forum for support. About 45 percent of social media-using mothers say they receive parenting advice and support via social media, according to Pew Research.
1. More people than you realize may see your posts. Parents typically have about 150 Facebook friends but only consider a third of them actual friends, according to Pew Research.
Consider privacy settings and avoid including too much identifying information, advises Kristen Wynns, a Cary- and Raleigh-based licensed psychologist and owner of Wynns Family Psychology.
Jessica says both of her social media accounts are private. “I don’t like the idea of just anyone seeing my kids’ pictures,” she says. “Both accounts are private and require my approval to see my pictures or tag me.”
Raleigh mom Rachel* and her husband made the decision to limit Facebook posts
about their daughter (now 17 months old) before she was born.
“We personally have only posted a few and we do not allow anyone else to post any pictures of her,” Rachel says. “We don’t feel comfortable over-exposing our daughter to strangers on a public website. We are protective of our child and her safety is our priority. We are more private people and, in general, we do not post much on Facebook.”
2. Your kids may react negatively to your posts. Consider the effects your posts may have on your children in the future. Will your son really appreciate that post of him at age 2 in the bathtub when he’s in high school?
“As kids get older, parents need to really think through the short-term entertainment value versus longer-term consequences on how the child may feel about it (the post).” Wynns says.
3. Family and friends may have different reactions to your social media decisions. Rachel’s decision to limit posts was not received well by all.
“Most friends and family members were very understanding of our request that they never post pictures of our daughter on Facebook (or any website),” she says. “However, we did receive a
little pushback from a few family members. This was surprising and rubbed us the wrong way because we feel as though parenting choices need to be respected, not questioned.”
To keep family and friends abreast of big moments, Rachel says she and her husband prefer texts and emails.
Regardless of what communication method you choose to send your family and friends updates, it’s best to be explicit with them about the policies you have set regarding your child’s digital presence so they will respect your decision, whatever it may be.
Kathryn Caprino is a freelance writer based in Gainesville, Florida.
*Only first names have been used in some cases to protect identity.