Facebook came out in the mid 2000s and has remained popular since. People of all ages use the platform, and much of the conversation about social media swirls around parents making sure their kids use it safely and don’t post anything that could cause trouble.
However, parents also should think about what they post about their children.
Teenagers are now old enough to theoretically scroll back on their mom or dad’s Facebook and see their own birth announcement. Depending on how much information the parents posted, their children could see parents seeking advice, posting toddler pictures and posting about their own successes.
Now the people in those toddler photos are old enough to express their opinions on having their lives documented and posted online for all to see. “Sharenting” describes a parent who is an over-sharer online.
Kelsy Hoerauf, licensed marriage and family therapist and women’s business coach in Fenton, said she hasn’t had clients with this particular concern, but it is something parents should think about.
“I think there’s value in respecting kids as they get older. They’re fully a person even if they’re not a legal adult. They still count,” she said. “I think it really depends, too, on who’s your audience. If it’s Facebook and it’s only family and friends, that’s a little different than if it’s a larger audience … the ones doing it for a living.”
Online “influencers” are people who make a living off blogging, oftentimes about their children, and their audiences can grow to be in the hundreds of thousands or millions. It could be considered a breach of privacy to tell thousands of people intimate details about your child’s life.
Hoerauf encourages parents to have discussions if their child tells them they feel uncomfortable with what a parent posts about them online.
“Not necessarily that you’re going to take everything down, but just having a discussion of, ‘hey, does this make you uncomfortable?’ You want your kids to be able to voice if they’re uncomfortable,” she said.
Approaching it with a curious mindset rather than a judgmental mindset is more productive, she said. Some kids might not appreciate getting comments from their friends about Facebook posts their parents make about them. It’s important for the child to know the intentions were not malicious.
“Everyone has to filter their own social media,” she said.
What’s considered “over sharing” is a personal thing.
“You try to judge it based on your parameters and also who’s on your social media. Do you friend every person from around the world? Then you don’t know who’s on your social media,” Hoerauf said.
Some parents may choose to create a private Facebook group with select friends and family to share photos and information about their children.
“People feel like they have a platform now. Whereas before, you were just talking one-on-one and you could just be like, ‘whoa that’s too much information,” she said. “But on social media, it’s a little harder.”