Your Kid Is More Worried About What You Share on Social Media Than You Think

tween laptop

Lots of parents don't think twice before posting cute (and perhaps potentially embarrassing) pics or anecdotes involving their kids to social media, but if the results of a recent study are any indication, you might want to start thinking about it -- a lot: Researchers found that kids are "really concerned" about their parents sharing things about them online, even if those parents weren't particularly concerned at all.


Looking at kids between the ages of 10 and 17, researchers at the University of Michigan and the University of Washington found that approximately three times more children than parents thought there should be some sort of rules in place dictating what parents can post about their kids on sites like Facebook and Instagram. And the kids who participated in the study seemed quite adamant about this fact.

Of course! Of course it makes perfect sense that kids are more worried about this issue than parents. After all, most adults are pretty much in control of their own social media presence; in the event that a friend should post an unflattering pic (where, say, you look like an overweight hunchback because you happened to be wearing a loose top and the wind was blowing and it's not an accurate representation of you at all), you can always un-tag yourself, at least.

Kids, on the other hand, have virtually no say over what their parents post, but that doesn't mean tweens and teens aren't just as concerned about their image -- especially if, say, their friends follow their parents, as researchers found.

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That's why, personally, I've taken to asking my two older kids if it's okay for me to post a given pic or quote online. At 14 and 10, they're definitely aware of exactly how many people might be looking at their photos or knowing what they've said and done, and they definitely have opinions of how they want to appear (and don't want to appear).

Sure, I could probably get away with sneaking some shots on Facebook, where neither one of them follow me, but knowing how upset they'd be if they found out would sort of take the joy out of sharing for me. (Just like you would think it would take the joy out of sharing a pic of someone looking like an overweight hunchback for certain other people, but whatever! No, I don't look "great" but I'm over it, see??)

Of course, while I do believe parents should be considerate and thoughtful in this regard, I don't think we need to stress out about it too much. I still post plenty of pics of my diaper-clad 15-month-old online, and I'm not losing any sleep over his future dismay at discovering these posts. But that's mostly because they're adorable (I'm not biased, why do you ask?) and certainly nothing that would ever warrant shame on his part on any legitimate level. If I thought they'd end up truly embarrassing him at some point, I wouldn't post them -- which is why you'll never see me post a photo series documenting the potty training process, for example.

Basically, when it comes to babies and little kids, if it's sweet and not overtly humiliating, I think it's probably fine to share. (And thus far, my big kids have not taken issue with any photos of them when they were little going online -- it's the current stuff they're concerned about.)

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I think it all comes down to common-sense consideration and the golden rule: Post stuff of your kids unto Facebook as you would have people post stuff of you, or something to that effect. Not only does this show kids that you respect them as individuals, but it also shows them that they have the power -- and the responsibility -- to be selective about what aspects of their lives they share with the world. 


Image via PeopleImages

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