Image by the lovely Leanne at leanneelizabethphotography.com
As parents, we love to share our little one’s achievements with the world. It’s totally natural and has been this way for decades, but when does sharing too much of our children online slip into a breech of privacy? As parents, do we get to control this and decide for them? Will they resent us for it when they’re older? Here are my thoughts as well as some varying opinions from some lovely Mothers on Instagram.
You get drawn in…
I’ve always been a consumer of various family ‘sharenters’. Some of my favourites are mega-vloggers, the Saccone Jolys‘, as well as ‘The Michalaks‘ and ‘Louise Pentland‘. I follow many family instagrammers too, keeping up to date with their daily activities…that time they drew on the wall…that photo of chocolate smeared all over their face.. a video of them dancing in the lounge.. You feel like one of the family. You get drawn in. You need to know if little Timmy won that school competition!
It’s these kids of well-known vloggers or instagrammers which I fear for the most. Their lives are simply being played out for all to see – I’m interested to know in the future what these kids will think? Will it be so much of the norm in this digital age they grew up in, that they won’t care? We’re the first generation to be experiencing this and so really, only time will tell.
Having a child = more followers
I always said I would never become one of those ‘Mummy bloggers’, sharing photo after photo of my child online. But what happened? I became one. As soon as my baby boy was born, I posted. I then kept posting. And posting. It became addictive. My following grew a little from it and my account turned into what resembled a photo album of my baby. I took photos purely for the ‘gram, perfecting them with a touch of editing here and there. No longer was it the place I posted about food and various things I liked. And of course, I’d have to keep it up. It’s what the followers would want. They liked seeing what my baby was up to. I wanted to see what what other Mums thought, so I asked around on Instagram and Twitter – here’s what I found…
Stealing identities, Facebook & Permission
One quote from mama_scrumpy particularly stood out to me and has been in the back of my mind since. She said, “I have a vision that in a decade, identity, theft and feelings of intrusion will be worries for our kids”.
This really scares me. I would hate for my baby to grow up feeling like he had the eyes of the world on him, watching his every move; his every achievement. I think mama_scrumpy is very wise here. I do think we need to be careful. Personally, I know very little about identity theft and how it works. I think I’m probably not the only Mother who can say she is afraid to look into it. Could we be putting our children at risk if we carry on like we are now?
Some use Facebook as a compromise, sharing their much-loved photos with close friends and family. sustainablelivingonabudget says – “I don’t put my girls on here but I do on my private Facebook page.” Perhaps keeping a profile private is one of the best options, but not if you’re hoping to grow a following. It’s a catch 22.
So what if you co-parent? Does this mean you should gain permission from the other party before posting, making posting online a lengthier process? Mems_ofme shared her experience with me, explaining that when she was going through a tough patch with her child’s Dad, she took the photos down for a while. Now she has them back up and is in agreement to always asks the child’s Dad if she can post and it’s always a yes. I can imagine though, for some, it could end up being a lot more of a problem.
How do they know?!
For me, it’s when you meet someone you know from instagram in the street and they mention something your child did and you think, how do they know? Oh yeah…
I’m not the only one with this view. Freelancer, Annie Ridout, who also runs online courses for freelancers and business owners explained to me that it was her growing following and husband’s lack of social media presence that prompted her to re-think her child’s online identity –
“When my daughter was about two and a half, and I was pregnant with my son, I decided to stop sharing photos of her face on social media. I’m not sure exactly what prompted this but it was partly that my social media following was growing and I felt I needed to protect her privacy. I’d get messages from people I’d never met who knew her name, what she looked like, how old she was… and it just didn’t feel right. Also, at the time, my husband wasn’t on social and didn’t want our kids to be. I guess it’s about maintaining a personal life, separate to the social media profile. I still share a lot about myself on social but feel it’s not fair to share so much about my kids. Maybe they’ll grow up not wanting that stuff out in a public forum.”
Annie explained that she now only shares photos from the back, side or if their faces are hidden. She has a third baby on the way in August and will be sharing a newborn shot as they change so much in their first year, they won’t be recognisable from it.
A price to pay
When does sharing our children on social media become too much?
I think only time will really tell as to how our children will react. Some may not be bothered and some may ask to have them taken down. As parents, we want to build trust with our children, and personally, now I’m taking a step back and looking at this issue, I’m not sure this will help our cause. There are too many things that can go wrong. Too many possibilities. I’m not here to judge because I know I’ve done it, but i’m certainly going to be re-thinking how and what I post from now on. One way to look at is like this –
It’s like when your parents share your baby photos with your new boyfriend. Remember how embarrassed you felt? Well imagine that same thing but now the whole world can see instead! I think we’ve got some thinking to do…
What are your thoughts? Will you be reconsidering?