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Thanks to social media, parents have both new opportunities and new concerns when it comes to raising healthy children—including some angles many parents haven’t even considered.

So-called “Facebook parenting” is when parents post pictures of their children, as well as personal stories, effectively creating an online reputation for kids before they can even say or spell words. You might have heard of this called “oversharenting,” but the effect is the same: kids who lose their privacy while parents widely disseminate their photos and anecdotes.

In an editorial on the dangers of Facebook parenting on CNN.com, writers Aisha Sultan and Jon Miller write that seeing parents post and share personal information and photos can change what a child finds acceptable in the way of privacy. “We’ve created a sense of normality about a world where what’s private is public,” the writers said.

An estimated 92 percent of American children have an online presence before age 2, estimates AVG, an Internet security firm. That’s 10 percent higher than the rest of the world’s children the same age.

But what about your child’s godmother in Ohio who loves looking at pictures or the father who’s stationed overseas and relies on social media images on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram? Just as there is a valid argument for concerns over a child’s well-being, there are also numerous benefits to families often spread across the country or globe.

Whether your child is or isn’t old enough to make decisions about social media usage, it’s important for you as a parent to know where you stand. In 2012, North Carolina father Tommy Jordan famously took to YouTube to post a video about how he felt about his daughter’s Facebook usage. After his daughter posted a status update complaining about doing her chores, Jordan took out his .45 and shot his daughter’s laptop (outside, of course).

While this is an extreme example, there are some general steps you should take regardless of the side of the fence you fall on concerning Facebook parenting, the posting of images or even “kid-shaming.” General methods to protect yours and your child’s privacy that most parents can agree on include:

  • Utilize privacy settings to minimize the ability for outsider’s to view photos you are strictly posting for the benefit of family and loved ones.
  • Create “Facebook Family Rules” where you as a family agree upon what is and is not acceptable for all to post online.
  • Do not include personal information on yours or your child’s social media accounts, such as a full date of birth, home address, telephone number, or name or address of their school.
  • Encourage your child to accept friend requests only from people who know you or your child in real life.

Finally, remember the saying “When in doubt, leave it out?” The same certainly applies to social media and what you share about your family.

Takeaways

  •  “Facebook parenting” occurs when a parent posts photos, personal information, and locations on social media.
  • Facebook parenting can include far away loved ones in a family’s life—but it should be balanced again your child’s privacy and safety concerns.
  • Parents can create a set of “Facebook Family Rules” to keep online posting as safe as possible. Paying careful attention to privacy settings can help as well.

References

  1. CNN. ‘Facebook Parenting’ Is Destroying Our Children’s Privacy.
  2. PBS. Do We Reveal Too Much About Our Kids Online?
  3. Safety Web. Help Protect Your Child’s Online Reputation from Damage.
  4. Slate. We Post Nothing About Our Daughter Online.
  5. Today. Laptop-Shooting Dad: I Stand Behind What I Did.
  6. Time. Should Parents Post Pictures of Their Kids on Facebook?

Comments

  1. This is exactly why you have to be really careful with what you post to Social media

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  2. I am very lucky that my kids could care less about Facebook. My daughter loves to draw and spends a lot of her time on deviantart and my son is really into the Asian culture from the music to the manga. It helps that they do not have any fancy cell phones and are grounded in life realizing you have to work to succeed, that it is not just going to be handed to you because you demand it.

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  3. Guilty. What makes it even worse is that part of my career involves social media. I’m on the radio, which makes it DOUBLY hard for my daughter. While she cannot be completely off the grid, I do try to be mindful about how much I share.

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  4. Great article! I cringe every time I see naked photos of babies/toddlers bathing or on the potty on social media. I just think, “Why is it OK to put your kid’s genitals out there for all to see?!” (It’s not!)

    It will be VERY interesting to see how this upcoming generation feels to having these kinds of photos out there for all to see…

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    1. Interesting thought than none of us know yet how our kids will feel about the “oversharenting.”

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    2. I remember that there was ONE picture of me as an infant bathing in a sink. As an adult, I don’t think much of it, but, as an adolescent, I remember being a bit embarrassed about it.

      The good thing is that it was a picture that only the immediate family saw, NOT, everybody on the worldwide web.

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  5. My wife and I are new parents (we have a 4 day old boy). We have NO interest in spreading all of his personal information on FB. We made that decision a long time ago.

    I have a cousin with 2 children. She posts pictures and updates almost every hour (or at least it looks that way). She has no concern about including the location. What surprises me is that she is a Clinical Psychologist and deals with “At-Risk” children. I would think that SHE, of all people, would appreciate the the downside of “Facebook Parenting.”

    Another friend has a daughter, and every month, she is posting an update with all of the things the child has seen or done that month.

    We won’t be following in their footsteps. We simply send out group e-mails with our childs update as well as pictures. I am familiar with the different ways that you can post to certain groups, but, for now, he’s “Off The Grid.”

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    1. The fact that you and your wife has thought about it and made a conscious decision is great. So many parents choose without choosing really… at least they aren’t aware of the implications to make an educated choice.

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  6. Good article!!! Everyone will probably think I am the weirdest person ever but no one in my family has Facebook. I am completely anti-facebook for more reasons than I will explain at the moment. I am glad this does not apply to me. I am not quite their yet but I know the day is coming when my kids ask about getting a Facebook page and I dread the day! I haven’t come up with a decision or an answer. There are so many weirdos and sickos in the world I hate the thought of putting pictures of my little girls online!

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    1. My husband doesn’t get on Facebook very often probably for some of the same reasons you aren’t on it but I can’t help myself! I am too nosey and love to know what is going on in my friends and families lives. It is a great way for me to stay connected since I live so far away from where I grew up!

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    1. I can’t believe there are 4th graders on social media. I can’t possibly understand what they have to discuss online considering they see their friends everyday at school! We can just hope that their parents do a good job at keeping their pages safe and private!

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  7. I do ‘Facebook Parent’ but feel that I do so in a safe manner. I never share the location of where we live or “check in” to places so that my friends and family know where I am hanging out. I get so nervous for families when I see them share the location of every place they visit on a daily basis. This makes it very easy for predators to target them. I also go through my friend list about every three months and delete people that I don’t communicate with or have any sort of relationship with. I fear for the day my children are old enough to create a Facebook account because I think it will may be difficult to keep up with their pages but I will certainly do my best to keep them as private as possible!

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  8. I would like to point out that Facebook has “lists” where you can place each friend on a specific list. Once you do that, you can choose who sees each post. So if you want to post pictures on Facebook for the benefit of close friends and family, you can do that without showing the pictures to acquaintances you’re friends with. It’s important to understand social media and how the “rules” work. There are many great articles out there, but because Facebook (and other networks) are changing constantly, using their help sites is the best way to get up-to-date information. Because Facebook in particular doesn’t do a great job at transparency when rules are changed, it’s good to check in here often to update your settings according to any rule changes: https://www.facebook.com/help/325807937506242/

    Reply

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