I love social media. I freely admit it. I may not be on Vine or whatever the kids are using these days, but I’m on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and probably still have a Myspace account. I enjoy the concept of social media. I love being able to stay in touch with people living on the other side of the planet, I like sharing pictures of my cat and I’m even one of those people who shares lots of food pictures. I enjoy seeing people “like” my posts and comments, and my Facebook app is the first thing I look at in the morning—sometimes even before my eyelids are fully open.
That being said, I haven’t posted a peep about being pregnant on Facebook or anywhere else. I actively keep an eye out for any of my friends referring to my pregnancy in posts and comments and don’t allow any of them on my timeline. My husband is also of the same mindset, so if we haven’t mentioned it to you, chances are you don’t know anything about my pregnancy.
This has been and will continue to be a very purposeful decision on both our parts. We simply don’t believe that, beyond perhaps a simple birth announcement (maybe even without a picture), our child’s life should end up on Facebook.
This generation of kids is the first one in human history to have their lives shared in a forum as public and easily accessible as the Internet without their permission. Parents all over the world put their kids’ images on Facebook-sometimes even creating accounts on behalf of their children when they’re still babies. I get the reasoning: Everyone wants to share pictures of their kids with friends and family. More often than not, such photos capture sweet moments and I’m sure grandmas and grandpas the world over are grateful to have such easy access to their precious diddums. I also get our increased propensity to capture more and more images of our kids. After all, they’re adorable, and who doesn’t have a cellphone camera handy at all times?
For my part, I just don’t want my kid on social media until she’s old enough to put herself on there (and maybe not even then, given the rampant cyber-bullying and judgment kids are subjected to at the click-happy hands of their peers nowadays). Maybe it’s because I’ve watched too much Law & Order SVU, or I’m feeling comfortably critical in my pre-procreation phase, but I don’t think kids need to be exposed quite so much from such a young age.
I also understand it’s a fine line I’m attempting to walk here. Family pictures might be one thing, but posting cutesy photos of baby’s first bath are another. I don’t know where my kid’s pictures might end up some day—surely the last thing a parent could want is for a darling photo of their kid to show up somewhere totally inappropriate.
Fundamentally, I have an issue with overexposing children to the opinions of other people. Will it affect the way my child sees herself if she’s expecting likes and responses to her every action and facial expression? Maybe it’ll make her stronger, or maybe it’ll make self-awareness next to impossible. What if sharing her life with acquaintances and strangers before she even knows who she is somehow makes her unable to figure it out for herself without a constant stream of feedback? It’s hard enough being a kid. Why subject her to scrutiny-well-meaning or otherwise-right from birth?
I don’t even think I’m the only one subscribing to this approach. More and more friends are choosing to keep their babies’ lives off social media, instead finding more private ways to share their kids’ images with friends and family. Though I can’t say what effect putting a child’s images on the Internet will have in the long run, maybe there’s something to be said about not taking the risk.
This article was originally published in April 2014.