Social Media: How much are you really sharing?

Recently my husband made a comment to me about using my daughter’s image on articles I write that led to a further discussion on using her image on social media in general. I took his opinion to heart and decided to do some research. I’ll be honest, when I started the research, I thought I knew enough of the tips and tricks that I told my husband I was confident there was no harm in what I was doing.


  1. I had turned off location settings in my iPhone for all pictures I took. (Had anyone else who had posted pics of her?)
  2. I had used her nickname instead of her full given name. (Except those Instagram photos I tagged with her first and middle name, duh.)
  3. I had culled down my Facebook friends list to eliminate people I don’t really know or don’t really have a strong relationship with. (I made exceptions though… don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.)
  4. I had set my privacy settings to remove any geo tagging on Instagram and configured it so a user has to request to be added to my Instagram friend list. Thankfully these are a lot of vacation photos where we are not likely to be for long.
  5. I had set all my Facebook setting to private so only friends can see my posts. (I’m still not entirely clear how tagging and view-ability work.) Can my friends comment on my photo open the photo to all their friends who see they commented on it in their newsfeed? Mind-boggling!

Covered right? Well, turns out there were things I had never even considered:

  1. Consent. We all know that once you post something you can never fully get it back into your control. There is a digital footprint that you cannot erase and she can’t even spell her name yet. Could I be squashing future opportunities for her because of something I posted? Not likely as any reasonable person is not going to hold back a job offer based on a picture of a toddler crying but still, the idea is that I am making decisions for her that could resonate in years to come.
  2. Bullying. Would she be embarrassed at some point at something I posted? Likely, especially during the teenage years when everything I do will be cause for angst.
  3. Identity Theft/Stalking/Worse. Am I putting any information out that would make it easy for someone to gather personal information on her: name, birthdate, where we live etc? I try not too but something as innocent as sports team name can give a wealth of information on where the child will be and when. Yeah, I got a little sick to my stomach on that one.
  4. Body Image. As kids are getting older they are getting bombarded from every possible angle with messages of how they should look, far more than we ever did as kids. This is especially troublesome for tweens and teens. As if their insecurities were not big enough.
  5. Leading by Example. What example am I setting for such an impressionable mind if I am stopping to post everything on line for the world to see. When she becomes a teen, her norm will be to post everything. At that age is she really capable of deciphering what is and is not appropriate? Or even comprehending the repercussions of a mistake you cant take back? Do I want to raise a Kardashian?

I really hate being wrong but I had to admit there is a lot to be concerned about. On the flip side, what about the positives of sharing on social media? Sure there are some! There is a camaraderie built amongst parents who laugh with you and feel your pain. They are connections to the outside world when you are lost in your own day to day. There is the joy of sharing your child’s (and your) triumphs with those you love and garnering support from your tribe when you need it most.

Therein lays the dichotomy of social media. And in our world today it is difficult to just turn it all off. So, what’s the  answer? How do we stay connected to those we want to share with and continue to be mindful of our kids privacy and future? I know my approach has changed. I have reviewed my accounts to remove any identifying information along with reviewing images with a new, open but wary eye. I will change my habits of posting and likely limit any posts to a close group of friends and family who know the “rules.” I will not use full given name or tag her in them.

Right now it feels odd and overly cautious and it will take some getting used to. Maybe it will change over time. In the end what’s the harm in sharing less for my family? A few less 149Hpeople see her Halloween costume or what we saw at the petting zoo? I can live with that if it means that her overall safety and future are not compromised or exploited. Besides, maybe a little less shared is a little more for us to enjoy together and we can do it face to face without our noses buried in smart phones all vacation!

Still I am curious, how do you use social media when it comes to your kids? What impacts do you see it having on your family?

If you are interested in some other tips, tricks and just really good material for keeping your family safe and healthy, please visit the Family Online Safety Institute.


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