Are You Sharing Too Much About Your Children Online?

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The digital age has improved so many aspects of our lives. It’s also made connecting and sharing with other easier than ever. Remember the days of printing and sending pictures of your kids to friends and relatives? Now, a quick upload and post is all it takes to share moments from our kids’ lives with our loved ones. For a lot of parents, myself included, the internet and social media brought our tribe closer. We connected with strangers slugging through the same parenting muck, and turned social media acquaintances into life-long friends. But there’s a fine line between sharing information about your kids online, and sharing too much. In our quest to connect online, are we compromising our children’s privacy and safety?

In the age of blogging and vlogging and Instagram and Facebook, are we sharing too much about our kids online?

It’s easy to get caught up, I know. You have a baby, you have no idea what you’re doing, and so you turn to the internet for support and commiseration. We share struggles and victories. We ask for advice and confirmation that we’re doing the right thing. It’s so easy to forget (or ignore) that your online audience isn’t exactly private. Once we hit “post”, our information is out there. Even if you have your privacy settings nailed down, it’s almost impossible to keep your information and what you share within that small circle of people with whom you’ve chosen to share it. As adults, this might not bother us that much! We’re equipped to deal with the fallout or ramifications of oversharing (well, some of us are). But when it comes to kids, they have no say in the matter.

When our kids are babies, it’s easy to forget that they are their own separate beings (even if they’re not at all independent of us). Does a baby need privacy? Very debatable! But the internet is forever.

And those babies grow into kids, who grow into tweens and teens, and one day become adults. The information floating around about them on the internet is there to stay. Sure, that time your toddler smeared their poop all over their room during nap time made for a really funny story. Those pictures of your little girl sitting on the potty? So cute! But will those little ones still find them cute as tweens? Teens? When they apply to colleges and jobs and have their name googled, are you prepared for the fallout should those pictures surface? Are they? Perhaps you don’t think your toddlers or babies are entitled to privacy. But would you post the same information about your older kids?

Another layer of the sharing too much debate is child safety.

It may seem alarmist or paranoid, but the fact of the matter is there are very, very bad people in the world. Very, very bad people with access to the internet, who prey on vulnerable children using information gleaned from social media and blogs. Parents have had their children’s identity stolen, been approached by strangers who recognize their kids, and have even found themselves in trouble with child services or law enforcement after a “well-meaning” follower alerted authorities to something they found disagreeable. You wouldn’t allow your child to walk around naked and unsupervised, surrounded by strangers (or I’m assuming and hoping you wouldn’t!). Posting a video of your child it is not that different.

I’m not suggesting we all clam up and stop sharing on the internet. I have a very tight circle of people who I share parts of my life with frequently! But I always consider a few things before hitting “send”, even if the audience is just people I know personally. One, does the information violate my children’s privacy in any way? Two, do the pictures make my children vulnerable? And three, will my kids get mad at me for sharing it? My oldest is almost 8, so I always ask her permission before sharing something about her. And I’ve started getting into the habit of doing the same with my youngest, too.

Sharing our lives on the internet and social media can benefit us in a lot of ways. But sharing too much, especially when it comes to our kids, can backfire. Share smart: lock down those privacy settings, change your passwords frequently, and always consider how your kids will feel about something as they get older.

(Image: iStock / AntonioGuillem)