Every parent who has snapped a totes adorbs pic of her toddler at a pumpkin patch has probably asked herself: Should I post this? The idea itself brings up lots of questions—about consent, community, the right to live an undocumented life and whether some dude in a hoodie is monetizing our memories. Here, the arguments for “sharenting” (yes, it’s a thing) or parenting in private. 

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social media mom child privacy

Privacy is precious

We all crave connection—especially in the early, often isolating days of new parenthood. And almost nothing beats the buzz we get from seeing our social network “like”our incredible kids. (You’re so right, old colleague from two jobs ago: It WAS amazing when Henry let that goat lick him at the petting zoo!) But do we really want a future college admissions officer to see footage of our kindergarten kid dressed up as Captain Underpants or (Harvard forbid) tantruming at Party City? We were as surprised as anyone when Ashton Kutcher emerged as the beacon of wisdom on the subject. “We don’t share any photos of our kids publicly because we feel that being public is a personal choice," he explained of his decision (along with wife Mila Kunis) to keep his family life private. "I actually don’t think that they should have images of them as children that somebody could potentially blackmail with or do whatever. It’s their private life. It’s not mine to give away. Your social profile is yours to create, not for someone else to create for you.” 

social media mom child sharing

Sharing is caring

Almost every social media platform is designed to filter out unwanted access—including to photos of our children. From blocking certain users to permission-only private feeds, there are plenty of tools in place to let specific contacts (hi, Nana) in on our lives and keep others out. Hackers and digital kidnapping are a legitimate concern, so it’s safest to think before you share—but there's no need to parent like it’s 1999. As with all things kid-related, common sense and boundaries are key: No potty photos, hashtagging your kids’ names or hometowns or venting about their behavioral struggles—unless you’re doing so anonymously. Privacy is where you draw the line. And, some pediatric experts add, the community-building benefits of “sharenting” outweigh the potential risks. "There's a profound opportunity for parents to learn helpful tips, safety and prevention efforts…and all kinds of other messages from other parents in their social communities," pediatrician Wendy Sue Swanson, executive director of digital health at Seattle Children's Hospital, told NPR. "They're getting nurtured by people they've already preselected that they trust." So the next time your kid says something hilarious, experiences a brutal sleep regression or, yes, wears the hell out a tutu, be grateful there’s an online army out there waiting with a word of advice—and a boatload of likes.

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