I was talking with my 12-year-old son the other night when he asked a question. “Mom, do you regularly post pictures of me online?” This sparked an interesting conversation that really made me think.
Apparently, earlier in the day he and his class had a discussion about social media. The conversation started when a teacher asked one simple question. “Should I post a picture of my newborn on social media to announce the birth?” As a parent myself I thought this was harmless and the modern worlds form of a birth announcement, right?!?
The follow conversation was a very different perspective from a generation whose lives seem to proceed them online. By the time our children get on social media themselves they very well may have a history online, from us, their parents. We have become a society that post all our thoughts and memories online for the world to see. If our children say something funny or act silly, we love to share these things with the world. But how will your child feel about that as they get older?
As you know, when we post something it is hard to remove it from the cyber world. Many employers can look at social media pages and learn about their perspective employees. What you say and how you present yourself is now online for the world to see. What if all your baby pictures and early life pictures were posted online? In addition to that what if some of your most embarrassing childhood stories were also there for the world to see?
As parents, we may not think much of posting something in the moment but how will our children feel about this as they get older? This brings me back to that conversation with my son. Most of his class wished that their parents would check with them before posting a picture or a story. They felt embarrassed by some of the things that were out there and wished their parents would limit some of the posts about them. Some of these preteens even wished that their parent would take the pictures/captions down or preferably not put them up in the first place.
How do we talk to our kids about online safety, protect them from cyberbullying, and teach them about respecting one another on these social media sites when we are also part of the problem? What example are we setting?
Posting a picture or story may seem harmless in the moment but next time you do, I hope you will think about it from your child’s perspective before sharing it with the world.