I love social media. I have a communications degree and I’ve worked jobs where Twitter and Facebook were a part of my daily job duties. I share pictures of my lunch and a new pair of shoes on Instagram and I’ve never been shy of sharing my life with those who follow me on social media.
However, I’ve recently been rethinking my share-all policy online because I’m currently 7 months pregnant. My husband and I are eagerly awaiting the birth of our little boy this winter. I’ve instagrammed pictures of my growing bump, I’ve checked in on Facebook during doctor appointments and I’ve let the world know our future bundle of joy’s name and expected due date. But, the closer it gets to his birth, the more I start re-thinking my love of social media. Should I share pictures of my son when he’s born? Will he one day resent the fact that 300 people I know saw pictures of him immediately after birth or learning to potty train? What is too much to share?
According to The Huffington Post, many other parents are thinking twice before posting photos of their little ones online. According to the Post, reasons for this include privacy, worry about companies using the photos and simply “respect for the child’s autonomy before they’re old enough to make decisions for themselves.”
Facebook does allow a parent to customize who can see the pictures they post by only posting the pictures in a group of pre-approved friends. I’ve thought about doing this. But, then that brings us to the question of who to include in that group. I know some parents use Facebook as a way to share pictures of their kids with relatives, but I’m not Facebook friends with my parents or in-laws, so who exactly would I be sharing these photos with? And how strict are those Facebook privacy policies? If an aunt who is in the group “likes” one of the pictures, can her Facebook friends then see that she liked the picture?
This also doesn’t solve the advertising issue. Facebook hasn’t been the most forthcoming about its sharing policy. Is it possible that pictures of my son that I share with friends and family could make their way to companies that partner with Facebook? I’m not sure. Some parents are solving this issue by creating private web pages that require a password to log on to. This allows family and friends to see pictures of their children securely. However, more than likely the only people logging in to that website would be close relatives. Why not just email those relatives the things we want to share?
Then, there’s the email address idea I read about a few years ago. It’s basically a way to keep and save pictures and memories of your children for them and no one else. In this method, the parents create an email address for the child and use it to send the child pictures and emails for them to access when they get old enough. The upside of this is that it would allow us to send him pictures and things without having to worry about losing them.
I guess the main reason I have reservations about sharing pictures of my son online is his autonomy. How would I feel if every stage of my life, every blunder, every awkward haircut was out there for everyone to see? There are definitely times in my life that I’m thankful Facebook wasn’t around for.
But if we aren’t going to share his picture, what will we share? His legal name? His official birthdate? The hospital in which he’s born? Where do we draw the line? I know some people reading this may say, get over yourself, no one cares that much about your kid.” But it’s not about me, it’s about him. On one hand, I worry about making decisions for my child before he’s old enough to have a say about how he’s perceived by the world. On the other hand, isn’t that essentially what a parent does? We make all types of decisions for our children before they are old enough to make them.
What are your opinions? I’d love to hear from parents and non-parents alike. Do you think today’s newborns will grow up to resent the fact that we live tweeted their births? Or, do you think social media has become so ingrained in our culture that they won’t even think twice?