(This is adapted from my Sacramento Cyber Safety Examiner column on Examiner.com.)
A recent New York Times article featured a recent survey led by the University of Washington that indicated youth do not appreciate parents posting photos and sharing about their life events. According to the report, the children were more concerned about what the parents were posting about them than the parents. The survey results indicated that three times more children than parents agreed there should be rules for parents posting stuff about their children on-line.
This problem of living with a paparazzi-type lifestyle made possible with social media exposes youth to being over exposed, and vulnerable to living in a “fish bowl” where it can seem like every move they make is a performance to be judged. Below are some considerations in formulating family on-line sharing etiquette:
Examine your motive. Really, what is your motive? Why are you posting the pictures? Are you seeking validation of your own child by how others respond? Is your child on-line watching to see how many people like what you posted? Every family member can ask themselves if the sharing a photo or posting a comment will result in good or not. For girls, does the photo of an event with friends leave out someone who is being isolated from the group? For boys, what does sharing that nude or explicit photo of a girl who has fallen out of favor with her boyfriend say about you?
Respect for individual and family privacy. Many parents are simply not aware when their desires can become a violation of their child’s need for privacy. As guardians, parents are the primary protectors of a child’s privacy – which means that while you do not grant your children privacy, you do respect it by not sharing things that happen in their life without their permission.
Respect for individual identity. One of the new problems kids face today is that parents start posting images and content when they were babies, and some parents have created social media profiles for their very young children. This creates a digital footprint long before they could give consent to sharing images, ideas and events associated with their life. For many youth, this can create problems as things shared by parents in their early childhood years might be used against them.
Family social media photo sharing/posting rules criteria
- Only post images and photos that reflect the best version of yourself, your family and your friends.
- Do not post photos of family members without permission. If any family member is not comfortable posting photos, then honor their concern.
- Less is more. When in doubt, err on the side of protecting privacy.
- Clean slate. Until a child is not old enough to create and maintain their own social media profile, keep posts to a minimum on the parent’s profile. Let your child grow up with a clean slate to begin exploring and forming her or his own identity on and off-line.
- Remove location settings on cameras and social media apps to ensure that bad actors do not have access to the location of family members.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)
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As the Sacramento Cyber Safety Examiner, my personal mission is to educate and inspire parents from all walks of life and social settings to realize their inherent authority to govern the home and educate the child about their own power; the personal power that comes from the spiritual resilience of your chosen faith. And so I write for Examiner.com to express the passion of my mother heart to a diverse audience
Joanna Jullien is an author, educator and speaker on strengthening the parent-child relationship in a cyber powered world. She is a mother of two grown sons, the author of The Authority In Me: The Power of Family Life in the Network Culture, produces The Sacramento Cyber Safety Examiner column on Examiner.com, and is the CyberParenting advisor on The Fish 103.9FM. Her new book, A Google World in the Garden of Eden: Five Family-Safe Strategies for Texting and Social Media is now available for PC and all eReader formats including Kindle, Nook, iPad.