By Pam Dewey • social media sharing, kids and social media, online privacy, social media privacy, children and social media, kid's privacy, posting about kids on social media • July 08, 2021
Social media has changed much about our lives. People build careers as “influencers” on social media. With a couple of clicks, you can find out what your third-grade boyfriend is up to now, or check out pictures of the new, hot restaurant without leaving home. Not to mention, you have the urge to document both the big and small moments of your life, from what you made for dinner last night to pictures of your wedding.
But for parents, posting photos and information about your kids can get tricky. Here are some things to consider when you think about posting pictures, videos and information about your children online.
People can access your child’s photo
Sharing a cute photo or video of your child is a normal thing to do. However, remember when you share an image or video on social media, all your friends and followers can access that image or video. On Instagram, unless you have a private account, literally anyone can see that photo or video. Other social media sites have many privacy settings that may not be as secure as you think. And you can’t control what other people will do with your child’s image, or where else they will share it. Before you post your next cute pic, you might want to do some research on your privacy settings on your account, or consider if the pic is one you would want shared out.
Consider not sharing certain information
According to CNBC, in 2017, over 1 million children were victims of identity theft or fraud, and two-thirds of that population was under 7 years old. This likely comes as a surprise, but the truth is fraudsters can use a child’s identity for years before that child might become aware as they apply for a loan, credit card or another line of credit.
While you’re not going to share your child’s Social Security number online, some other personal information could put them at risk. Posting information like their full name, date of birth and home address may make your child vulnerable to identity fraud. So think hard before you post your child’s birth announcement on Instagram.
Remember, the parent-children relationship is built on trust
There has been a push to destigmatize mental health issues in recent years, which is important and necessary work. More people are talking online about their mental health concerns. Parents might be tempted to share information if their child is struggling with mental health issues, in hopes another parent might have advice. While you may find support and even some answers by sharing your child’s concerns, consider that you’re also sacrificing your child’s privacy.
If your child is too young to give consent, sharing their personal information now might be something they will regret you did later. This could potentially damage your relationship. In The Washington Post, Clinical Psychologist Annalise Caron states, “Break your child’s privacy now, and they may be less likely to share difficult things with you later. I see this happen all the time.”
Ask your child for consent
When your child is old enough to give consent, about 5 or 6, you can ask them for permission to share a story, a picture or a video of them online. Caron points out that teaching your children about consent and saying no is important to their mental wellbeing. She states, “Offering them such personal rights now sets a road map for how they will think about themselves and advocate for their own rights and dignities in future relationships.” In other words, learning about consent early will make it easier to have healthier boundaries and better relationships later.
It can also be a good way to introduce your child to social media and help them learn what it means to post things online. If someone comments on their picture, you can give them a chance to respond. According to Motherly, “Inviting your child to look at social media with you gives them training wheels before they ride solo with their own accounts.”
Model good behavior
If you’re a parent of a certain age, you might remember with a cringe some of the oversharing you did on early platforms like Friendster and MySpace. Luckily, these platforms are now defunct, and the evidence has vanished. But you should teach your kids good online etiquette, so they learn what is appropriate and safe to share on social media. By asking for their consent to share photos, you’re teaching them not only about consent but also about boundaries. They need to learn that it isn’t appropriate to share everything online, and you should set limits on what you share about yourself, your friends and loved ones.
As a parent, you want to brag about your kids online, but remember that other people can access their photos and the personal information posted. When your child gets older, they may be less than thrilled that you shared things like the behavior that led to their autism diagnosis. So be cautious about what you share with the online world, and once your child is a little older, ask for permission before you post.