How to Resist the Urge to Overshare Kid Pics
Do you overshare your children on social media?
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Every day, I see images of our friends' children online. Not just a few, but lots. And not just pictures, but also videos. While the behavior is not new — parents have always felt the world needed to see their children, which were the most beautiful, cutest, most talented ever born — the medium has changed over the past few years.
Social media has become the new photo wallet. Rather than an accordion display dropping from a billfold, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram streams feature billions of pictures of offspring. If you follow a proud parent — and you are able to resist the urge to rudely unfollow them — you will see the children's lives unfold on your smart TVs, laptops, tablets, smartphones and smart watches.
While parents worry about their teens oversharing on social media, because whatever you post on the Internet never goes away, they don't seem to be all that concerned about the naked baby in a bathtub images being liked, commented on, shared and saved by 629 Facebook friends, 342 Twitter followers and 174 Instagram followers. Gone are the days of digging out high school yearbooks to find that awkward photo of someone famous. Babies born during the past five years will have thousands of awkward photos already dispersed among server farms just waiting to be data mined and added to embarrassing before and after slideshows.
Kids are not happy about the new trend. According to a recent "Today" story, a study revealed that children do worry about what their parents are sharing online. They don't want to be embarrassed. And while winning a science medal at school would not typically fall into the embarrassment category, bathtub memories, messy rooms and grandma planting a big fat kiss on the cheek are all cringe-worthy posts that kids do not appreciate.
So what is a proud parent to do in these days of instant technology display gratification? Here are some guidelines.
Clothing Not Optional
Refrain from sharing pictures of a child who is not fully clothed. While it seems cute at the time to share a baby girl running around in only a diaper or twins splashing in a bathtub that could use a few more bubbles, these images are best saved for family photo albums. Whether electronic or the kind that gathers dust on a shelf until they bring home their first girl or boyfriend, there is still a place in our world for family photo albums that are manually shared with only close family and friends who want to sit down and view hundreds of images of the same cute kid.
Before posting, take a good long look and then ask yourself if the picture or video will embarrass the child in 10 years? Ask also if you would want a similar picture or video of yourself publicly posted for all the world to see? Because just like the spring break pictures and videos you warn (or will warn) your college kids not to post, the baby, toddler, preschool, elementary years and tween images you put out there really never go away. Ever.
When your kids are old enough, ask them before you post. Also, ask them before you tag. Your tweens and teens will be more willing to pose for pictures and participate in family videos if they know the material won't be posted without their permission. Sometimes they will say no. Respect that. Sometimes they will say yes, but don't tag me. Respect that, too. Why? Because they too have the capability to snap pictures and record video and you will want the same veto power — especially during bathing suit season.
Put the Camera Down
While you might worry that you're going to miss something for posterity if you don't have a device with a digital camera built in to record all the glorious moments growing up provides, it is OK to not take pictures. If there is always a device between you and your child, you could be missing out on parent-child bonding. You might enjoy the freedom of interacting without having to document the interaction. Even at that milestone first birthday party, schedule some camera-free time. Enjoy your child. Enjoy the moments. Don't feel like every single second must be saved for eternity. Remember, it doesn't matter how many pictures and videos you take, they are still going to grow up in a flash, move away and start lives of their own.
Don't Beat Yourself Up
Part of parenting is being proud of your kids. And part of being a kid is being embarrassed by your parents' need to brag. How many cave paintings did archeologists miss out on discovering because they were destroyed by embarrassed kids who did not want to be in the mural of the hunting or fishing expedition? I walked out of many a family slide show as a child due to total and complete horrifyingly devastating embarrassment. But as my father grinned and reminded me each and every time, it's a parent's job to be proud and embarrass their children. And while that will never change, in today's world of publicly shared images, it is a good idea to rein in the need to post every little thing on social media; kind of like when my mom told my dad it was OK to have a dinner party that did not include another slideshow.