Navigating Social Media With Kids

Parenting can be fun, exciting, and so very rewarding. When things are good, I want to share everything— retell their funny jokes, the time they accidentally farted in public or the sweet words they whisper in their most vulnerable moments. I don’t just want to remember all of it forever, but I want to share that joy with the world as well.

Conversely, the challenges that come along with parenting can be indescribable. There are shameful moments when we lose our temper or say hurtful things. There are crushing moments when we can’t believe how different our lives are than how we imagined they’d be.  And there are heart-wrenching days when we witness our children struggle, and hurt—from illness, from other kids, from themselves. These are the things you only share once you’ve come out the other side.

Children have an uncanny power to give us our greatest highs, and the shallowest lows—and astonishingly can accomplish both in the same day.

As my kids shift from children to young adults, I find myself struggling with how to share my experiences as their mother while still respecting their privacy.

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As parents we need support. We need to know that we aren’t alone in this. That it’s perfectly normal to feel helpless, to know that other people’s kids can be pretty shitty at times (and that it’s not just ours). That other people’s children suffer from anxiety, or bullying, or depression. And more importantly, that they got through it, or how they got through it. That there’s hope. That we have each other, and that it’s all normal. How can we know all this if we don’t share?

In sharing about our kids there also needs to be a balance, and that can be hard to achieve. We’re striving to teach this lesson to our children.   What you put out there won’t go away—our stories may seem cute when our kids are five, embarrassing at ten, and simply horrifying at fifteen. There’s a reason I now write about recipes and stray chin hair in addition to parenting!

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I’m envious of the young mommy bloggers (minus the diapers and blah!) who have endless hours of footage and features of their kids doing all things kid. Mud puddles, growth milestones, and endless snuggles caught on film. But kids grow to be tweens, teens and young adults, and their interest in being our comical centerfolds will dwindle. They may not be willing to provide material for our likes and sharesand we are left to untangle what is theirs, and what is ours.

This is an ongoing discussion in our house.  As we create social media guidelines for our kids to follow, I find that they are good for me, too. Here are three concepts our family strives to remember while navigating social media.

ASK

A little permission goes a long way.

Every person has a different personality and a different place in the social world.  One child may be psyched to be in the limelight of your feed, but the other might not.  We now ask our kids for their permission to post about them or to use their picture. Sometimes the answer is no. More often than not, however, they say yes trusting that we care, and respect their privacy.  I’ve noticed they’re also more willing to be IN pictures, knowing that we won’t post every photo taken.

LIMIT

WORLDS ARE COLLIDING, JERRY!” Kids are friending parents, are friending teachers, are friending everyone!  It’s all a mess! That being said, your stories will travel. The details you share online about a meltdown or nightmare day your child had will likely reach their teacher, coach, friend’s parents or friends. That could have a negative impact on their playing time, social life or job opportunities going forward.  The picture you’re painting can have a lasting impact on how people perceive your child.

THE TABLES WILL TURN

Imagine stumbling upon your child’s social media feed to read about what an awful parent you are.  The minute-by-minute update of how you woke up like a beast and yelled all morning. That they hate your hair, and how you dress, and OMG that would be HORRIBLE!

Do unto others, my friend. 

Some things are not meant to be shared online. Save it for a private conversation (with your therapist, or with a close friend).  There’s a difference between posting that you’re struggling with your child (universal and relatable) and sharing every gory detail for the world to read (and judge, because they will).

.    .    .    .    .    .    .

We’re still learning. I keep more of the photos of my children private, as much as I’d love to share! I ask more open-ended questions to the larger online audience, and when someone responds with a connection, I open a more private conversation with that friend or soon-to-be friend.

Overall, I think we have a lot more to benefit from sharing than we do from being totally privatebut we still have a lot to learn about finding the right mix of what’s right for us, and what’s right for them.

How do you and your family find balance in the big wide world of social media?  

Oh, the irony that I ask you to SHARE!  

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This post was featured in Motherly & Today Parent.

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22 thoughts on “Navigating Social Media With Kids

  1. WOW! This is so spot on! Thank you for helping to show social media rules, or should I say etiquette for families to follow. So true…my teenagers friends are friending me now on Instagram. Thank goodness I keep it clean and pretty there. I need to start asking my children for permission to post their photos or “cute” comments.

    1. Oh, I’m so glad this was helpful! If only we had a parent handbook. Cheers!

  2. livebythesunshine January 23, 2019 — 6:59 pm

    Such a great post! As always! I am not a parent, but I am an aunt of twins who just started middle school! And my goodness that is a whole different world!

  3. Omgosh I actually talk about this topic so oftenwith friends and family even though im not a parent. It must be so hard for parents to draw the line especially in the social media age. I have friends that are parents who have been embarrassed when they were younger by their mums or dads and are so mindful about what they tell people about their kids now. It was a very interesting read.

  4. I needed this reminder… my daughter is at the age where I should be asking her permission before I post pics of her online. And it really puts it in perspective to think about my kids writing stories about me on social media!

  5. Well, I only have a 3 year old right now and I don’t out rightly share much about him. I think we’ll follow your suggestions as he gets older and we really have to make these decisions. Thanks for the thinking points 🙂

  6. This is all such tricky stuff. My daughter just started middle school and social media drama is already happening. It’s good to have a strategy and making sure that our kids are safe.

  7. I have had people ask me why don’t share about my oldest as much. I just simply say because she asked me not to.

  8. I 100% agree with this! Social media is something else. You probably wouldn’t believe me but i secretly hate facebook lol! Everything gets to addicting and its wasting valuable time.

  9. I love your take on this. Each child is different. You have to really watch them and see how they react. And you are right, everyone is connecting with everyone. You can’t dump your drama on FB.

  10. I’m not there yet but these are all excellent tips! I don’t even want to this about this stage yet!

  11. I absolutely love this post! I have been through the exact same struggles. When my babes were young I wrote a newspaper column about mom life and loved being able to relate all of the crazy misadventures that are motherhood. Then my kiddos got a little bit older and straight up told me that didn’t want me writing about them.

    So I stopped. I had to respect their request because in the end they are more important than any job. Just recently we had the conversation about my writing and they told me they’d like me to write stories about our family again. I explained that I would only write about circumstances that they give the okay on.

    It’s definitely about balance and I don’t ever want to write something about them that may one day come back on them and they could be bullied or teased about.

    Again great post, and so relevant in today’s world!

  12. thegrowingcreatives January 25, 2019 — 4:34 am

    This is why I try to limit what I post about my kids on social media! I especially like your point about if the tables get turned when they get older. Puts it into perspective!

  13. I like your takeaway on this. Even though my children are not yet old enough to use social media, i FEAR the day we have to moderate their activities online. I’m hoping to keep a cool head about the whole thing and reasonably handle the responsibility. I’ve been thinking about these issues since the day my first was born!

  14. This is an invaluable resource, especially for parents like me who have kids moving from little ones to that tween grey area. Social media can feel so scary for parents, even more so because kids want to get into everything and are so curious. I love that! But it terrifies me.

  15. My daughter’s only 2. I only write from my perspective and I never use her real name. I also think to myself “how would I feel if my mother had written this?” before sharing a photo or story on social media. However, what I find embarrassing and what she does may be totally different, so if in the future she says “mommy can you take that down,” I totally will. Once she’s a little older, I’ll definitely ask for her permission to share any photo or story.

  16. This was extremely thoughtful and insightful. I hadn’t thought of a couple of these before. I especially like the part about having to think about if you’d want your life talked about that way.

  17. Great insights! I’m not there yet, and secretly dreading the day I have to monitor social media for my daughter. I’m so glad I grew up when it didn’t exist. 🙂

  18. Great post. It’s definitely important to think of the impact of any posting.

  19. Such a balanced and well written post, I do share pictures of my kids but I really try not to make them the focus of my online world…for the same reasons you share here. Everything in balance 💗

  20. Thought provoking for sure. I post my kids, but in sports or first day of school. But, I’ve seen otherwise like you mention. We really need to think about the impact this will have on a kid’s future. and even their own self image when they see it.

  21. Yep all of this rings true & I’ve had a few times where, me ranting about my teenage son on Facebook has lead to arguments in the home because he simply did not appreciate my view on something he had done, or the fact that I had shared it publicly (friends list on FB) so 100% agree ASK first next time! 🙂
    Dee | http://www.thrifdeedubai.com

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