Nobody can truly say they’ve gone through their social media feeds without seeing a picture of an adorable baby (or two). And whether parents are sharing pictures of their children for family members, creating personal accounts for babies, or simply not posting anything at all, it’s an ongoing debate about oversharing.
“I think that social media is here to stay and that carefully thinking about what we post online — especially as it pertains to our kids — is an incredibly important process for parents to go through,” says Dr. Jillian Roberts, child psychologist and associate professor of educational psychology at the University of Victoria.
“We need to think through what kinds of images we post and what kind of tone and message we want our social media posts to portray.”
Is oversharing an issue?
Oversharing, a term that has been thrown around the parenting world for years now, is meant to describe people who may reveal a little too much about themselves or their children.
Raehan Bobby Umar, a dad of two in Toronto, says some of his family members think he overshares at times. “Sometimes, my mom or sibling might speak about the photo of our family or our kids,” he tells Global News. “I always love to have the conversation because I think it helps us learn and grow.”
Umar says, for him, posting photos of his children Nyal and Ryah online helps him create a legacy of their lives.
“I do it because it helps me organize my thoughts, capture words and stories I normally wouldn’t have journaled myself. It’s like digital scrapbooking,” he says. “I learn to appreciate the small moments and learn as I go about how best to navigate in this new digital world. My kids learn with me.”
The argument to not share
On Tuesday, U.K.-based BabyCenter writer Sarah Whiteley wrote a post on why she will not be sharing any pictures of her baby online.
“Now I’m pregnant, I finally get it. Out of the 445 friends I have on Facebook, some of them are just people I’ve met once, on holiday, or through a friend. I don’t know them all as thoroughly as I’d like to,” she wrote. “And once you put them online, you just never know where they’ll end up, or who will see them. A friend once found her sister’s picture advertising a tattoo company. Legally, there’s nothing you can do to stop that.”
The parents who do it
Natalie Romero, a mom of two from Guelph, Ont., has several reasons why she shares photos of her children on social media.
“I have family that lives far away and I love that they can still see my children grow up even though we don’t get to see each other in person very often. I also love seeing their children and that our kids can see each other,” she tells Global News.
And as a parenting blogger, she considers her life an open book, so much so, that her online persona has also become a photo album. Romero says she posts pictures of her children weekly and mostly on private social media accounts.
She also asks her children (who are eight and nine), if they are OK with her posting photos of them, especially when it involved her son in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). “If he had said no, I wouldn’t have posted it. I feel like these photos are the story of their lives.”
Charles Tam, a dad of two in Aurora, Ont., shares photos of his children on Facebook and Twitter from special occasions, including big events and family trips.
He and his wife say they are both aware of the hazards of posting pictures publicly. “Similarly, for pictures shared with close friends and family under tighter privacy settings, my wife and I would still jointly review all photos before they go up.”
What parents should remember
Roberts adds at the end of the day, when you post a picture of a child online, it is public. It is also a good idea, as a family, to talk about online boundaries.
READ MORE: Social media safety for children and teens
“It is a good idea for parents to be a role model for their children. Therefore, it is respectful and sets a good example for parents to ask the child if it’s OK to post something. As the child gets older, encourage him or her to do the same when they engage in their own social media activity.”