Posting about kids on social media

The new term "sharenting" is a portmanteau from the words "sharing" and "parenting." It refers to the practice of parents publicizing a large amount of potentially sensitive content about their children on the internet. You might love to share pictures and updates about your family on social media, but you should consider drawing the line at what you share about your kids. The reason is twofold. First, everything you share creates a digital footprint that’s difficult to erase. I frequently find myself looking at what people post about their kids on social media and thinking, Really? That's TMI! I wonder, How might these shared moments affect these kids down the road?

The second reason is for security: According to CBS News, studies estimate “sharenting” will play a role in almost two-thirds of identity fraud cases involving young people by 2030.

As parents, we need to keep our kids safe and lead by example. This may require revising our online habits and ensuring our social accounts, messages and blogs are appropriate.

Here are six things to reconsider before sharing on the internet:

  1. Naked pictures of your kids. As cute as your kids are to you when they’re having fun during bathtime, please do not post photos of your kids exposed in the bathtub or running around naked. You don't know which friend of a friend is looking at your child in an inappropriate way. It's not worth the risk of those pictures getting into the wrong hands. Most social networks employ censorship guidelines, but we should take these guidelines a step further. If a photo could be misconstrued as being sexual or suggestive, don't post it.
  2. Important personal information or an ID. It's OK to be excited about your kid passing their driver's test, but please don't post a picture of your child's permit or license with all the personal identification information such as their date of birth, Social Security number, and hair and eye color. You’re giving scammers all they need for successful identity theft.
  3. Their failures. I'm all for bragging about your kid's accomplishments. It’s a great way to tell your kids how proud you are of them and boost their self-esteem. But when parents complain about their kids' failures or even shortcomings in public, it's unacceptable and damaging. If you can get off the screen and spend that time talking to your kid about their problems instead of posting, periodically checking the likes and comments and replying to the same, you can do a lot better for your kid's success.
  4. Rants about their teachers or coaches. Perhaps your child had a bad day at school or even a bad year because of a teacher or coach. Instead of airing this dirty laundry in public, meet with those involved and discuss the issue. Spend time in school meetings and counseling. Some of these problems might have an easy fix. Complaining online, eliciting responses from the community and blowing things out of proportion may cost you the chance to rectify an issue smoothly in person.
  5. Their relationships. Please don't publicly expose your teen's emotions, friendships and romantic relationships. They already have enough emotions and peer pressures to deal with privately.
  6. Details about your kids' health issues. We are all looking for support when our loved ones are not well. But when your child is running a fever or has a broken bone, please put down that camera, step away from the screen and take care of them. I'm sure that if your child had a choice, they would want to look their best (like you do) and would not appreciate a picture of them looking tired on the emergency room bed. If you should post, keep the details and description minimal. We talk so much about patient privacy rules and rights, but what about the privacy rights of our children?

We love our kids and would do anything to keep them safe and happy. We don't realize that the internet and online communication give a false sense of security because we share information with the world from the comfort of our homes. But it can be just as open and nefarious as making a radio announcement about your child's failure or a TV ad with their personal information. Tread carefully with how much and what you want to share, especially about your kids. Our kids trust us to protect them, so let's ensure we uphold that trust.

Read more MomDocs content.

Shobha Bhaskar, MD Shobha Bhaskar, MD, is a pediatric hospitalist with St. Louis Children’s Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine, who also sees patients at Children’s Hospital facilities at Missouri Baptist Medical Center and Progress West Healthcare.




Mom Docs