Mama + Bae: Social media and kiddos

February 13, 2019

I started writing this post over a year ago, life got in the way and now we're here.

I've had 18 additional months of motherhood and insta-twatting to add to my experience and to mold my opinions on social media and children; and I'm still not entirely sure where I stand.

I have my hard and fast boundaries, and I have an idea of the boundaries that are (for now) hypothetical to my parenthood. They may change over time and as my boys are more capable of expressing how they want (or do not want) to be seen by the online world.

I like to share funny moments of parenting, and the things that make me want to play an extended version of hide and seek (with me as a very capable hider).  I'm conscious of protecting them by only making information about them available that would be freely given in conversation if we'd met at a playgroup; and try to be mindful of the grey area when something about me and my motherhood becomes something about them and their privacy.

If you've seen my instagram stories you may have a wry smile on your face remembering a moment that doesn't quite jibe with this personal philosophy- and I'm not trying to pull a fast one on you! Our children, especially in these early years of childhood change by the day, I'm constantly reassessing what's appropriate and fair to share on their behalf before they're capable of giving consent- when does a peachy baby bum become a child's private parts? When does WTF moment of getting liberally doused by a diaper blowout become an incredibly personal moment of learning to manage private bodily functions?

I'm learning and adjusting as a I go, and as the landscape of my parenthood AND social media changes. Currently the boys don't have the verbal skills to give their input but that doesn't mean I'm not in consultation with them constantly about how I share our lives. Their body language, interest, and interaction always informs whether I'll post picture or videos of them, and as they find the words, those will be at the forefront when 'creating content'. Whilst I want to document our life for us and those who enjoy sharing it, at the center of everything I am always trying to make the best choices on behalf of my children's autonomy until they can do it themselves.

I reached out to some bloggers and instagrammers that I love to follow, a big part of my enjoyment of their accounts and blogs is that they have young children, like me. I enjoy seeing how their family works and grows; sympathise and find solidarity in the moments of frustration; and learn and find confidence in seeing how my parenting style differs or matches those that I follow.

Jesse Coulter

Jesse is a lifestyle blogger from Texas. I started following her during her pregnancy with her twins who were born in the same year as my boys! I love her openness about life as a working mother and her honesty about the struggles of balancing family life.

Do you share pictures of your children on social media?:

I'm naturally an open book, and I naturally trust EVERYONE (unless my instinct is telling me otherwise). It's kind of scary, but I don't think much about it. I share pics of my kids on all social channels. I've never had to face someone stealing them, and yes that would be horrible if they did but I would just face it when the time came. 

Do you use pseudonyms for your children? If so, how did you come up with them? 

No, again open book. It would be too hard to not share their real names, especially because of videos.

If your child indicated they didn't want to have their picture shared, how would you react? 

I would respect their wishes, but it would definitely be hard since my blog is so much about my family.

Are there anythings about your child you definitely wouldn't share on social media?: 

I never show their butts in photos, and I haven't had to face a "personal detail" really that I had to question if I want to share or not. I mean my son asks and says some pretty crazy things sometimes, and I don't put that out there (in regards to sexual questions,etc). My twins go to my neighbor for daycare and I've never spoke about that. Anyone could track down where I live based on my photos and where I tag photos, etc so I'm definitely not open with sharing that information. I also don't share where my son goes to daycare. 

Have you ever had any particularly positive/negative reactions to your sharing of your child/children on social media?:

I've never had any negative reactions, most people love when I share photos of my kids.

What do you think the future holds for children that have lived on social media since birth?:

Wow...great question. If everything saves, it will be amazing for them to look back on basically an online journal of their life. I have anxiety sometimes that everything will be deleted, but then again I back up all my photos. I would love to have a look in to my mother's personality when she was younger, a newlywed, a new mom, a working mom and hear her thoughts on life when great things happened and tragic things happened. I don't have that, but my kids will. I journal personally, but I feel like sharing my journey of life w/my kids online will one day bless my children as they get to go back in time and see what our family was like and all the experiences we shared together.  

Emily Abbey

British mum to two, Emily blogged her way through their multi year experience as an expat family in Singapore. Now living back in the UK (whilst renovating a house of dreams in France) Emily has turned her wonderful way with words to her own content creation and copy writing business, whilst navigating the journey of integrating her third culture kids into the English way of life.

Do you share pictures of your children on social media?: 

Yes I do shamelessly put pictures of my kids on social media. I've pretty much built my online presence as a blogger around the kids images, so I use everything I can from them- images, quotes, funny stories, you name it and I'll find a way to use it. That being said, I would never out something of them on my public profiles that I wouldn't want someone to put up of me, so no toilet or naked pictures and nothing too controversial. I save those for whatsapp and private social media profiles. I share an edited version of my life via my blog and it's social media accounts, and then my personal facebook is super private in terms of access but much more honest in terms of my life/the children.

Do you use pseudonyms for your children? If so, how did you come up with them?: 

I don't at all. My husband and I talked about it when I first started blogging, and for a while they were referred to as "the little guy" or "my mini me" but slowly their names crept back into captions or blog posts. It hasn't been a conscious decision really, more that I tend to snap and post on the go with the kids and remembering to type a witty and engaging (?!?) caption at speed whilst thinking up a new way of referring to them was actually too hard! So yes, they went back to being known by their names pretty quickly. For better or worse.

If your child indicated they didn't want to have their picture shared, how would you react?:

Maybe because I don't ever explicitly ask their permission before I post an image of either of them, there have been no complaints here. More likely it's because I have two absolute posers on my hands and they've grown up used to me taking photo's of everything they do anyway, albeit initially for my own sentimental use. If one of them was to ever say they didn't want their photo taken, or they didn't like a photo when I showed it to them, then of course I wouldn't dream of forcing them into anything. But they also have no concept right now of what happens to those photo's I take...

Are there anythings about your child you definitely wouldn't share on social media?: 

Oh yeah I'm quite wary of posting anything too personal- so no fully naked images, no bathroom pictures (toilet or bath), no identifying things like school crests on uniform (although as homeschoolers that's no longer a problem!), if we're taking photo's somewhere public I'll post the images once we're home and not in real time, I try and avoid other children's faces too especially if I don't know the parents or have their permission. I think just being mindful about what/who the image is of, what it represents and what it implies, and being respectful that the image might be around forever before posting anything is a great rule of thumb. If in doubt, don't post it.

Have you ever had any particularly positive/negative reactions to your sharing of your child/children on social media?:

I've pretty much only ever had positive responses publically, it tends to be more on my personal facebook profile that I'm quite sure that people are fed up of seeing images of my kids. But you know what, like anything on social media, everyone is free to pick and choose who they follow. I have no time for negative responses because no one is forcing you to look at anything other than yourself. If you don't like looking at pictures of my kids then you're following the wrong person. I have no issue with blocking people who take the time out of their day to put something weird under a photo of my kids. It takes the same amount of energy to be positive as it does to be negative, so really there's just no excuse for it.

What do you think the future holds for children that have lived on social media since birth?: 

Yikes that's a big question...I have no idea. In the short term my kids are enjoying the benefits of being social media kiddies. They get sent freebies, asked to go places, review things etc. But the long term? I just don't know. If they turn around in a few years time and hate it all then I'll have to ditch the mama-ing from my blog and social media no questions about it. But hopefully they won't, it's so much easier being a mummy blogger when my kids cooperate!

I also asked my instagram followers what their thoughts on children and social media are, the results being as follows:

Do you post pictures of your children on social media?

Yes- 89% 

When posting pictures of your children online so you use a pseudonym?

Yes- 53%
No- 47%

If you child indicates that they don't want their photo taken/posted what would you do?

Post it- 5%
Not post it- 95%

What kind of pictures do you NOT post?

What do you think the future holds for our children's generation and social media?

There were only a few responses but the two that really stood out for me where opposite ends of the spectrum:

"I think it could be good because everything is out in the open, it makes silly indiscretions less taboo"

"I don't know but I'm scared"

What do you think about children on social media, both with on their parents or with their own accounts?

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