What parents should avoid when posting about kids on social media

Like many new parents, the birth of my first child transformed all aspects of my life, including my Facebook page. I announced her birth to the world via social media, and the chronicling of her life continued from there. Adorable baby pictures quickly flooded my timeline, and I enjoyed sharing the everyday moments, the milestones, and eventually the addition of her siblings. I was unapologetically “that person” whose newsfeed became an ode to domesticity and parenthood.


I have mixed feelings about the fact that because of my actions my children’s lives are now a part of the everlasting fabric of the world wide web. When I google myself {admit it, we all do it} I see pictures of them. My intentions were good, of course, I was excited to share those adorable snapshots of their lives. Social media became a way for me to not only share with loved ones, none of whom lived anywhere near me, but also to feel connected during a time that new mothers can empathize has the potential to be very lonely and isolating.

SEE THIS SEGMENT ON INDYSTYLE! We popped by to talk thru these tips with our friends at IndyStyle. Watch the segment.

Not everyone makes the same choice. My best friend has two children, and neither of their pictures have ever been posted to social media. It is a conscious choice my friend made, and it most certainly puts her in the minority of millennial parents. Her main reason for not posting: fear of how the images could be used. “I didn’t want my children’s pictures to be turned into a meme or used to sell a product,” she said. She also worried that years down the road her children might resent the fact that she shared so much of their lives with the public. And yes, she endures some teasing at work for being “that mom” and has had to politely ask friends not to post pictures of her kids, but for the most part she hasn’t given the decision a second thought.

Another close friend of mine has a different approach. She actually created Facebook profiles for her children at birth and has maintained these digital baby books with photographs, milestones, and memorable events in the children’s lives. “My friends didn’t necessarily sign up for constant pictures or updates on my kids, so I like that they have to choose to ‘accept’ them as friends.” She has chosen the highest privacy settings for the pages and treats them almost like a blog. She looks forward to the day when her children are older, and she can share these digital journals with them.

RELATED: Kids and social media: 5 questions to ask kids before they post

The choice is yours, and like all parenting decisions­­ you will have critics and naysayers no matter your decision. That being said, just as we advise our children to think before posting, we should use the same restraint and judgment.

If you do choose to post, here are some guidelines of what to avoid when posting about your children:

  1. No Nudity: Yes, baby butts are undeniably adorable and innocent. Pantsless toddlers are hilarious. But, all the privacy settings in the world won’t keep these pictures completely private. Will your son or daughter appreciate the fact that their genitals are part of the public domain? And do you know who else thinks baby butts are adorable? Pedophiles. Am I overreacting? Quite possibly. But I tend to think playing it safe is the way to go on this one.
  2. Skip the Humblebrag: We have all seen the posts and have rolled many an eye in their direction: “I know Baby is only 2 months, but he just started reciting the alphabet;” “Of course she isn’t a genius, but Baby is a year old and can read and write.” With varying levels of subtlety these brags can range from humorous to downright ridiculous. Yes, we are all proud of our children and yes, we tend to want to compare and compete, but let’s just relax on proving that our baby is the next Einstein. In fact the Harvard Business School recently published findings from 5 studies concluding that it fails to pay off. If you want to brag, our suggestion is to Just own it.
  3. Pass on the Potty Play-­by-­Play: Now having gone recently through this and just barely surviving, I understand what a Herculean feat it is to teach someone to pee and poop in a toilet. That being said, I still do not condone sharing the details of your child’s defecation and urination to a broad audience. If you have ever been a parent you can sympathize with the emotional roller coaster of potty training, yet still I beg you to restrain yourself. I promise you that your now toddler but one day teenager will thank you for not sharing that he “finally went poo poo in the potty, hooray.”
  4. Those In Glass Houses: While I think the concept of “mommy wars” is a bit contrived and overplayed in the media, I will argue that it is tough to be a parent today, and social media earns a lot of the blame for this. Forget internally scrutinizing every decision you make, now the whole world and all of your friends (or the random acquaintance you “friended” after meeting once who now comments on every post) can scrutinize all aspects of your parenting style – so you need to expect the feedback. Let us remember, that we are all improvising the majority of the time with an occasional and often accidental moment of success. Unless a parenting decision is truly endangering the life of a child, we should also just take a moment to appreciate the diversity of child rearing techniques and methods and maybe just maybe get a few tips from one another.
  5. Let’s Get Real: Parenting is hard, messy, unglamorous, and at times infuriating. Of course it is also sometimes deeply rewarding, funny, beautiful, and heartfelt. But why do we only post pictures of the latter? Projecting perfection parenting is unrealistic and can be just downright irresponsible and irritating. If you have bad days, share them. Let other people know that you are human and struggle just like the rest of us. Let us revel together in the imperfection of raising a family.

More hot tips:

  • If the things above are simply a must-do, don’t forget that Facebook allows you to share posts with specific audiences. Consider limiting this to grandparents and your personal cheer squad only.
  • For heightened security, DON’T use the location tag on your photos and posts, especially when you’re at home. While “The Miller Mansion” might sound like a fun moniker for your house, it also gets tied to a physical location which means everyone and their brother will know exactly where you live, sleep and eat. Is that worth it?

Being a mother and figuring out how to raise a family is a major part of my life, so that comes across on all of my social media channels. I love posting pictures of the good, the bad, and the ugly and will continue to do so, but I will always ask myself “Will my kids hate me for posting this one day?” {hopefully not}; and “Am I violating one of my own rules?” {hopefully not, but occasionally so I’m sure}.


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