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5 experts and 9 parents have answered

Heidi Scrimgeour writer
Heidi Scrimgeour Freelance scribe. Mother x2. County Antrim

Like many parents, I regularly post on Facebook about the funny things my kids say or do. They’re an endless source of comedy gold and ‘Facebooking’ the minutiae of motherhood can sometimes feel like all that makes it bearable. But this backfires when friends comment on my posts in the presence of my kids.

‘Did you write about me on Facebook AGAIN?’ queries my six-year-old, eyes narrowed in contempt. My children are unimpressed with this habit of mine, and have begun to start conversations with the proviso ‘Don’t put this on Facebook, but...’

So what's the right protocol? Do I really have to get the six year old to sign-off on every status update I write that references him? Should a good parent refrain from using their kids as good copy? Or is it my right - nay, my duty as their long-suffering mother - to embarrass them in public?

I think not, which is why my new rule of thumb is not to Facebook anything about my kids without their permission. Kids aren’t extensions of ourselves, and to open up their lives online as if they were is to trample over their identity - a dangerous course of action for any parent.

Friends say that once a child is old enough to have their own Facebook account or understand that you’re writing about them it’s time to put their privacy before your pithy status updates. But I’m not sure age is all that matters - that’s just another way of saying that what a child doesn’t know can’t hurt them.

‘Will they ask your permission before they rant about you online when they’re older?’ asks another friend. Good point, but I’m not convinced by the logic because if I based my decisions as a parent on the practices of my kids we’d soon end up with a sorry case of the blind leading the blind.

11 Reply Share:
Opinion 3 years ago
Andy Battle
Andy Battle infoSec geek, proud father of 4 Perth, Western Australia

Great question Heidi!! I post things on our #fourlittletesters blog all the time, and whilst I try to parentally sensor all content and only post constructive comments and praise for my little ones, I respect their wishes and discuss what I have posted or plan to post.

That said, they are children all under 13 and I do not really think they currently have a say in what I post.

That said, if at any time they are unhappy with anything!! I fully respect their wishes and would immediately remove it.


4 Reply ( 1 ) Share:
Opinion 3 years ago
expert answer
Magda de Lange expert
Magda de Lange Global Learning Professional ZA
Education expert

I think the way we invade the private lives of others including our children have reached a point where we all need to step back for a moment and re-assess how we live as humans. On the one hand a comment about our children can be innocent enough as part of our daily social lives and conversations.

On the other hand what we say in cyberspace does not stay a mere comment but actually becomes a documentation of the live of another person. How comfortable are we with this?

Documentation is not always bad - there were times when very little was documented about the lives of children -- making it challenging for sociologists involved in childhood studies to fully comprehend historical situations.

Now however, there are times where people forget that time in cyberspace is accelerated time, where we trust situations and others far quicker than what would be the case face to face. Adults have a responsibility to respect and protect their children and their own personal uniqueness by being more selective in what they say or document about them online.

By the end of the day it all boils down to living balanced lives and having balanced outlooks. Even though I am a huge proponent of online communities, I am also very wary of how easily we can loose that balanced view online.

3 Reply ( 1 ) Share:
Opinion 3 years ago
Joseph King
Joseph King

Just remember: the decisions you make, and the stuff you post, your kids may have to live with for the rest of their lives.

Turn it around: there may come a time when you're old and grey, and the roles are reversed. You become dependent upon your kids, just as they were dependent on you as children. How would you like it if your kids posted on social networks about your struggling with the effects of old age, without your permission? "LOL, found mum wandering around local Tescos again in her slippers!"

3 Reply ( 1 ) Share:
Opinion 3 years ago
expert answer
Leonie Smith expert
Leonie Smith Cyber safety consultant AU
E-safety expert

Never use their real name of course...and refrain from talking about them if you can, the same as you would about your partner. If you have an issue with your child, take it up with them don't use a chorus on Facebook to sort it. If you need support use private messaging. If you write about your child on Facebook it will come back and bite you in the bum...been there done that in the mildest way. My son now 16 has the ability to search back through my timeline to see what I've said...he would absolutely insist I take any comments about him down. Kids today are getting very concerned with privacy, and in a few years time, will be regularly asking parents to take down photos and posts about them. The stats show this, and it will be a big job to to do that for some parents who constantly post about their kids every experience. So honestly...ask yourself if its' really necessary to broadcast your funny story about your kids..what are you really doing? Are you looking for support, a laugh? At who's expense. This is the internet folks, where there is NO privacy, not at a private dinner party where no one is hopefully being recorded.

3 Reply ( 1 ) Share:
Experience 3 years ago
Riad Abdallah
Riad Abdallah Proud dad, love guitars Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Being expats, we share with only a restricted number of close friends and our immediate family members, posts about our 4 year old. He doesn't know FB yet, and we try to limit to the max photos or stories about him to general public.

2 Reply ( 1 ) Share:
Experience 3 years ago
Steven Spray
Steven Spray Purveyor of science London, United Kingdom

I think so yes.

Of course there is a line. Some parents post everything from prebirth whomb photos to bath times and potty training sessions on social media. This might seem benign and cute but could have unwanted consequences in later live I'm sure.

Playing devils advocate; your child may have begun life with some serious privacy/trust issues. Much later in life they become aware of all the photos of them on Facebook. I don't think they will appreciate that very much!

2 Reply ( 1 ) Share:
Opinion 3 years ago
Kirstin Chaplin
Kirstin Chaplin London, United Kingdom

This is such an interesting topic. My seven-year-old was devastated when I posted a story about her on Facebook last year.

She begged me to remove it and also constantly asks 'are you putting that on Facebook?' It made me realise that I was totally invading her privacy and vowed not to do it again.

2 Reply Share:
Experience 3 years ago

Ask yourself would you write everything on to a large sheet of paper and display it in the front window of your home for everyone to see?

Facebook has changed the way we live our lives if people want to put everything that happens on display it is up to them but you have to consider what may happen to that information, how long will it be before schools are looking at Facebook to select future pupils or some one losing their job because of the way they parent their child?

1 Reply ( 1 ) Share:
Opinion 3 years ago
expert answer
Adam Clark expert
Adam Clark Father of 5, Technology Expert San Luis Obispo, US
Technology expert

No. I don't need my child's permission. If I am using sound judgement and not posting stupid, embarrassing things about them, no. And you shouldn't ever post those kinds of things. Meaning that if they are old enough for the post to be embarrassing for them, perhaps you shouldn't post it. Why is it we need permission and rules for everything. How about just common sense and consideration for the feelings and well-being of others?

1 Reply ( 2 ) Share:
Opinion 3 years ago
Anita Naik writer
Anita Naik Writer and mum of two London, UK

I agree if your kids ask you not to post/write/tag pictures of them you should respect their view.

Interestingly I was at a blogging conference where this subject came up. A parent blogger said her 14 year old asked her not to write about her but she felt this was going against her right as a writer. I was amazed at how many bloggers agreed with this view. It took the sane words of child psychologist Prof Tanya Byron to point out the obvious that our kids have a right to privacy especially if they ask for it.

1 Reply Share:
Opinion 3 years ago
expert answer
Jodie Cole expert
Jodie Cole Social Media Manager Birmingham, GB
Technology expert

It is my view that we don't want to condition children to believe that anything they say or do may or may not be shared as a source of entertainment/interest on a social media network. Suddenly, that conversation you're having with your mum or that silly thing you're doing becomes something which isn't just shared between the two of you, it's potentially shared with all of her friends too. This might only be something that she'd tell her friends anyway, but that's quite different to posting it online to her whole network.

I'm sure that any parent would want their child to feel completely comfortable about telling them anything, whether that's them coming out as homosexual, confiding that they're being bullied online, or even just going on their first date. Having seen mum post lots about them in the past, they may be worried that they can't say anything without it being shared.

My answer to the original question about 'should I ask permission...' would be probably, yes. This is so that your child knows that in your head, there is a clear acknowledgement of their privacy. It's demonstrating that you are aware that somewhere there is a line between what they are comfortable and not comfortable with you sharing.

I think the actual frequency of the posts comes as part of this. If it's every now and then, then that's less important, but if it's multiple times per day that you're finding yourself sending out an update about something your child did or said, then it might not just be your child that gets annoyed, it might actually be your Facebook friends too!

1 Reply ( 1 ) Share:
Opinion 3 years ago
Joanna Sefa
Joanna Sefa Joanna Sefa London, United Kingdom

People keeps forgetting that kids don't belongs to Mums or Dads, they are human beings and have same right to privacy like you or me. Yes of course you bring them to this world but they didn't ask for it so actually you shouldn't play " I am their Mum, I sacrifice so much for them" card. It was your choice so deal with it.

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Opinion 3 years ago
expert answer
Dr. Marc Blackwell Sr expert
Dr. Marc Blackwell Sr Family Counselor & Parent Coach Cape Town, ZA
Family therapy expert

It is important that we work hard at avoiding anything that would seriously frustrate our children. If a Facebook or other Social Media platform allows tagging then surely our photos must not embarrass or push our children away from us. Different ages or stages and different cultures call for families to maintain an ongoing life-review.

By voluntarily including and inviting our children to respond ..... before we say "share" - "publish" or "tag" allows us to communicate our thoughts, our hearts and even our motives. All such efforts in communication are wholesome and affirming.

Children's progression through many different stages or ages ... require an on-going review of life, it's decisions and choices with a smoothly unfolding and changing outlook or philosophy of personal space and inner confidence or even self-esteem.

We are all to be focused on thinking of others, not ourselves... Our children need to see that as a reality in our relationships with them and others if we want to see the character of our children to be formed in true Truth.

Paul, the First Century Christian Apostle rightly warned: "... do not irritate and provoke your children to anger [do not exasperate them to resentment], but rear them [tenderly] in the training and discipline and the counsel and admonition of the Lord." (Ephesians 6:4, Amplified Version of the Bible.)

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Fact 3 years ago

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