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What's ok to share about kids on social media?

Consider these things before posting about your children online. You could be saving yourself and others from heartache.

11 December 2018
3 minute read
father taking selfie with kids

We parents love to share our happy family times and our kids’ cute sayings and fine achievements on social media. But there are times when it might be a good idea to pause before hitting that “post” button. 

We spoke to Ruth Ancer, a clinical psychologist in private practice, about the behaviours that parents should think about as they strive to be decent human beings and good social media citizens. Here are some of the things you should consider to help make social media a safer and more supportive space for parents and children.

Posting about your child’s achievements

The soccer prize, the prefect badge, the five distinctions, the good deed… Parents are eager to share the tally of their children’s achievements on social media.

Of course, it’s great to be proud of your children and celebrate their achievements but be aware there are many children whose results are simply not going to be brag-worthy. Award season and matric mark announcements can be tough on them and their parents.

There are a lot of factors that contribute to a kid’s success, including your support and their natural talent and privilege. Not everyone has the same advantages. So, should the high-achievers hold back on posting their own children’s stellar results so as not to hurt the feelings of parents of the less academically inclined kids?

“Parents should consider who they are putting the message out for and what they’re really trying to achieve,” says Ruth.

“Parents should consider who they are putting the message out for and what they’re really trying to achieve,” says Ruth.

If you’re in doubt, rather than announcing your child’s – and your – successes to all and sundry, you could consider an email or WhatsApp to a group of close family and friends who are actually waiting for the news.

Your child’s response

Something you think is cute and funny, your child might find embarrassing and humiliating. This is particularly true of teens and tweens!

Or you may think that posting a picture or story of your child throwing a tantrum serves them right, but you could be opening your child up to the negative opinions of other parents. There’s also the risk of teasing or even cyberbullying by peers who stumble across these images or stories.

Ruth says that it is crucial that you ask your child’s permission before posting anything about them and that you display good judgement about what you post.

Remember that your child is entitled to their digital privacy and that everything on the internet lives forever.

Be tolerant, not judgemental

It’s easy to get on your high horse over this or that, particularly when it comes to issues of child-raising, parenting or schooling. No matter how strongly you feel about your commitment to healthy eating, you don’t have a right to shame someone else’s child’s hot dog lunch.

“We are all so judgemental and we all have such strong opinions that sometimes we just have to remember to be tolerant,” says Ruth. “It’s also useful to recognise that when you come across as judgemental and all-knowing, it can be very irritating to your social media friends.”

Before you post an opinion or idea on social media, stop and consider: does this show appropriate consideration for other people’s choices, or is it very judgemental and critical?

Don’t give unasked-for advice

How often do you see a parent express her frustration about an aspect of parenting and receive a slew of unasked-for advice? Sometimes people just want to vent. Allow people the space to express their experiences and feelings without jumping in to try to fix the problem or show how much more you know.

“People often don’t respond based on what their friends are asking or what they need, but rather take the opportunity to talk about what they want to,” says Ruth. “Always ask yourself whether your advice was requested, and whether it will be appropriate and helpful to the other parent.”

If you’re not sure, but you have some excellent advice that you think would really help your friend, first ask if they’d like to know what worked for you in a similar situation.

Compromising your children’s safety

It goes without saying that you shouldn’t post information online that could compromise your child’s safety. This includes providing information about their whereabouts either directly or by sharing information about their school or extra mural activities.

Read more about keeping your children safe.

Being good on social media

Enjoy social media for the right reasons

Social media keeps you entertained and connected, but its benefits can be outweighed by its drawbacks if it becomes a negative or toxic space for you and your friends. Parents are particularly vulnerable to criticism and the judgement of others, so do what you can to create a safe and happy online space for everyone you know.

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