These days, everyone has a social media account. From beloved pets to great grandparents, people seek to document, share, and communicate via the various social media outlets at our disposal. But what about social media for kids? Did you know some people create Instagram or Facebook accounts for their child to “archive” photos, starting from before they are even born?
In fact, many children and even young babies have a digital footprint before thanks to their parents. What happens when parents cross into oversharing and post too much? Understanding social parenting could fill a social media parents’ guide, and we will unpack some of it here.
There’s no way around it: social media changed the way we communicate with our kids. It has also changed how we communicate about them. What might start as a congratulatory post for reaching a milestone can quickly evolve into checking into every location, tagging every photo, and leaving embarrassing comments. Social parenting is still relatively new, and as the research has shown, so are the boundaries parents find themselves needing to set.
While parents and social media continue to evolve, there are a few baseline suggestions in helping you determine how to approach your kids and social media. There are many social media parenting questions, and we seek to help answer some of those here.
Sharing that first post online is more about parenting excitement than a full understanding of the potential impact that posts can have. There is a level of openness and good intention behind the choice, but it can eventually impact a child’s emotional and social development.
For example, if a child knows you regularly post their adorable comments or candid moments online, they may come to expect this. It can lead to self-consciousness or awareness at a young age as they begin to think of how others perceive them. In some ways, that looming social media post might become a wall between parent and child.
What Is the Motivation?
There’s a reason behind every status update and photo upload when it comes to parenting on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. What is that reason? Are you sharing for your child or for yourself? Are there any potential risks?
For the most part, parents use social media for family connections and community. If that is the case, the occasional update is great. If your child is older, try seeking their permission.
On the other hand, if the post is for your self-esteem or ego, you might want to rethink it before you click post. This can come from a need for acceptance and attention. It can be a way of saying, “hey look at what a great job I am doing as a parent!” and less about what your child needs. Ultimately, that just brings vulnerabilities to light and can cause chronic oversharing.
Model the Way
The center of this social parenting conundrum is boundaries. Parents are supposed to be a barrier from the negative aspects of the world, but social media blurs the line between family and everyone else. If every detail of a child’s life is public, the child will have a hard time understanding boundaries later on in life.
Setting boundaries is an essential part of development. So, when it comes to social media for parents or single parent social media, boundaries are essential. If you ask permission before posting, you teach your child how to advocate for themselves and how to say no.
At the end of it all, you want to ensure your child’s trust and safety in you. Sharing too much and documenting every moment via social media can blur that trust and safety. There are a number of data privacy concerns, identity theft issues, and potential bullying that can stem from a heavy online presence of a parent. Prioritize loyalty and trust with your kids. It’s the best way to mitigate the negative aspects of social media and cultivate a healthy, happy relationship between family and the online world.