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The Dichotomy of Sharing Your Children on Social Media
Examining the Pros and Cons of Parental Online Presence
Social media has become integral to our lives in today’s interconnected world.
As such, parents take pride in sharing their little marvels with the online community they interact with on a daily, documenting the many precious moments and achievements. However, amidst the vast sea of virtual connections and sharing a young life lived for distant relatives who cannot take part due to distance - there arises a question:
Should we share our children on social media?
In this article, we will delve into six points, with three pros and three cons of parental online sharing of their children, shedding light on the dual nature of this decision. We’ll also look at this “digital scrapbook” of internet memories from a position of legacy and new-age evolution.
1. Building Bonds:
By sharing our children on social media, we provide an opportunity for our loved ones - both near and far - to witness their growth and development. It allows us to foster a sense of community and closeness with family members and friends who may not have the chance to be a part of their lives physically. Our online presence lets us bridge the gap and reinforce emotional connections, uniting us through the joys of parenthood, which is something Jackie and I can relate to, as our friends and family are scattered, with people who care about us and our children in New England, out west, and in the South.
It’s not just family either; by sharing your family and what it is you’re doing with them, you will also develop bonds with other like minds who are out there, doing these same things with their families.
Many of my online connections were created as men saw that I was a family man living life as an involved father; had I not shared the pride I have in my life, I would not be as integrated into a positive father community as I am.
2. Celebrating Milestones and Achievements:
Each milestone our children achieve is a moment worth celebrating, not necessarily always, but sometimes it’s proper to share the result of your child’s hard work and accomplishment. Social media platforms provide a convenient way to announce first words, birthdays, school achievements, or talents to the extended family and your fellow parents following in your “online audience”.
People talk about how it takes a village to raise a child but then get hesitant to share the child with the village.
I am neither supporting the notion that your child is the responsibility of others, nor do I suggest you should allow the influence of strangers to take priority in their life, but I do believe that communities where children are made a priority are healthier than the alternative.
Sharing these moments with others can generate positive feedback and support, can inspire other parents to play a more active role in the development of their children, and may serve as reinforcement that we must build a child's self-esteem and encourage them to continue exploring their potential.
Sharing pride in your child is different than using your kid for internet validation; this line is fine; you must always err on the child's side - this is not about you.
3. Building a Digital Legacy:
In this digital age, the footprint we leave behind matters.
Sharing children on social media creates a digital legacy, a virtual scrapbook that they can revisit with nostalgia in the coming years. This record of their childhood can become a profound source of connection and self-identity, a testimony to the love and care we have woven into their journey.
With each point above, a counter-argument may be made, and I agree with both sides of the discussion, as I am a father raising children in a world I did not grow up in.
I do not know the right answer; in fact, I recently took photos of my daughter in some Cheerleading attire from a brand she is an ambassador from. I’m asking myself if she loves doing it, whether she wants to take these photos or not, if this is taking any fun away from cheerleading, or if a tank top is appropriate/not appropriate for the internet, and all sorts of other questions.
Some will say, “Nothing online until 18”
Others have said, “They’re growing up in the digital world; you can’t hide from it.”
Ultimately, I landed in a place where I’m thinking, “I know my children, and we have a great open dialogue, so if I am honest with them and make sure everything posted aligns with our values and is not something they will regret in the future, then I should trust my gut and share with them what is shared outside of our home”.
1. Privacy Concerns:
Every parent wants to shield their child from potential harm.
Sharing children on social media exposes them to a world where privacy is often compromised. There are concerns about the misuse of their images, the possibility of cyberbullying, or even the risk of potential predators lurking under the veneer of digital anonymity.
I know this as I’ve faced it myself; you wouldn’t believe the evil and deplorable minds which exist in this world.
Navigating the digital space safely and protecting our children from harm’s way becomes paramount. I know the government is tracking us through Alexas, Internet Routers, TVs, and our phones, but that doesn’t mean I need to make it easier by having photos up of my children.
Oftentimes, I will not post certain events, where we’re at, or what our plans are until weeks/months later to try and keep people off the scent, but facial recognition is here, GPS is here, and Google is not good at hiding anything - so is the fight for absolute internet security even possible?
2. Consent and Autonomy:
As children grow, they develop their own identities and preferences.
Sharing your son or daughter’s life online without explicit consent can infringe upon their autonomy and sense of self. While our intentions may be pure, involving them in the decision-making process is important, allowing them to voice their opinions and determine their comfort level with their private life playing out on the public stage.
I ask my children about the photos I share, making sure they’re cool with it. At 13 & 10, they don’t have a clue and think I’m just sharing the photos because they look cool (which is true), but I still take the position that what I post about them or of them is something that makes them look good in the eyes of future employers or friends and other family.
3. Unrealistic Expectations and Comparison:
In the realm of social media, it's easy to fall into the trap of comparisons, leading to unrealistic expectations.
This con is common for many, but I’d say it’s the single greatest issue I’ve made a priority to avoid. I do not compare my kids to anyone else, other kids or adults alike. My children are unique savages of their own; why would I ever want them to be more like anyone else?
For more trophies, recognition, follows, or likes?
Fuck the ever-living hell out of that idea.
It is important to be aware of the fact that sharing children’s achievements inadvertently creates a curated version of their lives.
This can perpetuate a culture of comparison, where others may believe their own children fall short. It is crucial that you strike a balance between showcasing joy and managing expectations, fostering an environment where love and support triumph over superficial comparisons.
Your child’s love should not be dependent on their ability to be a good little “dance monkey” for you and your followers.
Your bloodline is more important than your timeline.
I see children being used as props on TikTok and Facebook daily.
Parents make their child’s success, struggle, and very existence about themselves, not the kid. In the digital age, the decision to share one's children on social media is a complex and multifaceted choice, but it should never be made, with the outcome being the parent’s benefit.
By weighing the pros and cons, I’m hoping you see that there is a way to “share better”, and in a safer manner.
We can make a more informed decision that best serves our children's well-being while maintaining a sense of connection and community by prioritizing the child and their future self.
It is important to approach our online presence with vigilance, always prioritizing the privacy, autonomy, and emotional welfare of our little ones.
The digital realm is a tool, and it is forever; the result of that power is in how we, as parents, utilize it.
Navigate this path thoughtfully, embracing the duality surrounding the sharing of our children on social media and shaping a digital legacy that our children can cherish for years. Set your children up for success, not failure, by staying disciplined in your goals with sharing, connected to your children’s preference in the process, and conscious of the consequences which your online activity may have in their lives.
- Zachary Small