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Social Media is Forever…But…

I constantly remind my children that what they post to social media will be there forever. Forever and ever. Amen.

“May I post this one?” I ask my 16-year-old? I took a few selfies of the two of us sitting together at a coffee shop on vacation. She nods noncommittally so I proceed. I post to Instagram which is tied to my Facebook account. I post to my blog page on Facebook and save to my blog page itself for later use.

I constantly remind my children that what they post will be there forever. Forever and ever. Amen. “Don’t post anything you wouldn’t be willing to show Grannie.” That’s my point of reference. If you’re too embarrassed to show my 70-something mother whatever you’re posting, then you shouldn’t be posting it. “Don’t post anything you wouldn’t want your friends posting about you.” “Don’t…” “Don’t…”

But what happens when I have a picture of my children that I adore and love and want to post and they object?

Honestly…I listen. I have them tell me why. Sometimes it’s simply that they don’t want me to take any more pictures at that moment. Other times it’s that they want to redo it because their hair isn’t perfect. Then I don’t listen. I want them to realize that life isn’t perfect, and we don’t have to portray a lie. Other times, they feel embarrassed and I respect that because I HATE being embarrassed. But the whole situation begs the question…

What do you do as a parent? What’s the right answer? What are the boundaries for posting your kids photos on social media?

These are my children, under the age of 18, living in my care. Ultimately my husband and I make the decisions for our family. But we are raising children in the new and totally cataloged era of the internet, social media, and constant updates. As parents, we are learning to navigate parenting in the world of online life and real-world interactions. We monitor screen time, websites, shared photos for our children.

But what about us? Where is the line of what we share about the human beings we are raising? Yes, that diaper picture of you when you were six months old is adorable and I’ve shared it.

Shared it. Now…how many people have seen it outside of my family? No idea at all. I meant it for my family. And friends. But with the explosion of linked sites, that picture ended up with a couple of hundred “likes.”

Do I know all those people? Nope. Are they all good, honest people? No idea.

I don’t have a universal answer. I don’t believe one answer exists. Recently Gwyneth Paltrow shared a picture of her daughter, Apple, on Instagram. Apple commented on the picture, suggesting that she’d talked with her mom about it before and asked her not to post anything without asking. I think in case of a prior discussion, a deviation in course requires input and consideration, but not necessarily approval.

For our family, we use common sense. I try to not offend their teenage sensibilities and ask them to not embarrass me. (This goes both ways you know. My daughter recently caught a picture of me snowboarding…or rather not landing a jump and the tumbling after-math that ensued.)
Have a discussion.

Talk about your family’s boundaries as far as sharing photos goes. Make sure you’re all clear. Avoid the argument later and post the happy picture now.

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