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.
Reviewed by Dr. Eva Benmeleh, September 2020
- “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.