Are parents harming kids by posting pics online?

Tiger and pumpkin Halloween kid pic
The first Halloween for my kids together.

What do you think the long term outcome will be for parents posting every moment of their kids’ lives on social media?

I’m not pointing fingers, because yes, I was guilty of this myself.

Do you remember when once a year relatives or close friends would come over and the slide projector and screen would come out? Or, when you sat with a bowl of popcorn on the carpet with the cousins at your grandparents house watching old slides of your parents?

For decades parents have loved to photograph their kids. That’s because our kids are the most gorgeous and special human beings on the planet. Even Lucy took lots of photos of Little Ricky. There’s an episode about that.

I took tons of photos of my kids when they were babies and toddlers. I took less and less as they got older until our phones got cameras. I was guilty of taking photos whenever I could. And posting them on Facebook. Now, I don’t take as many photos of my kids, because when we’re together, I just want to be with them in the moment. And I’m not as active on Facebook, either.

I wrote the following post six years ago wondering what would happen when parents post photos of their kids all the time. Well, six years later, we’ve seen plenty of negative things. Some positive, too. Did we have “influencers” six years ago? When you read the excerpts of the articles I included, please remember they are dated. But they were already seeing issues.

Post from October 2015:

First Christmas photo shoot with a real photographer for my baby girl.
First Christmas photo shoot with a real photographer for my baby girl. ‘Kat in the Hat.”

Thank goodness we didn’t have Facebook when my kids were young. We barely had internet. We had a modem and I could send files of work to a printer. There was no way to share every minute detail and selfie of our day. Instead, I took my film downtown to the photo shop that made double prints. Then I wrote a card or letter by hand to my mom or dad and inserted the photos and mailed them the old fashioned way. Here’s the end result of my old fashioned film and camera. A closet with shelves filled with photo albums.

Stacks of photo albums in a closet
A few of my photo albums, filled with real live pictures.

My fear is that we are raising kids who think they are more self-important than they really are. Their every move is recorded and shared with the world. As they grow older and have their own Instagram, Snapchat etc. will they try harder and harder to get noticed? Will the photos get more outrageous and provocative? Look at me????

Christmas photo shoot 1996.
Christmas photo shoot 1996.

I’ve been reading articles about this phenomenon. Here’s a related article I wrote on whether or not our kids get too much glory. Following are some excerpts and links from CNN and US News. Some report skyrocketing anxiety and depression as a result of too much social media.

“The 2014 National College Health Assessment, a survey of nearly 80,000 college students throughout the United States, found that 54% of students reported experiencing overwhelming anxiety in the past 12 months and that 32.6% “felt so depressed that it was difficult to function” during the same period. The study also found that 6.4% had “intentionally, cut, burned, bruised or otherwise injured” themselves, that 8.1% had seriously considered suicide and that 1.3% had attempted suicide.

Ease up on the pressure. Do we really have to be noticed all the time? Does every second have to be a beauty contest? Our kids need to stop feeling that they have to outperform their peers every minute of every day. They need to know that they don’t have to market themselves constantly, and that social media can be a mechanism for fostering collaborative relationships — not a medium for fueling competition, aggression and irresponsible behavior that contributes to anxiety and depression.” More from CNN here.

Here’s another article with an interesting point of view on selfies and a teen’s self worth. Read more from US News here.

“Social media use can turn into a problem when a teen’s sense of self worth relies on peer approval, Proost says. Whether they’re posting from the football game bleachers or on a family vacation, teens can access social media anywhere and at all times. And because of the constant connection, it can be dangerous for young people overly concerned with others’ opinions. They may feel like they can never escape the social environment and are constantly faced with peer pressure.

“The mental health outcomes that we’re starting to look at now are things like body dysmorphic disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, depression and anxiety,” Proost says. “We are starting to see those things creep up and be related conditions to excessive [social media] use.”

If we know an overuse of social media can be fun, but also have consequences that negatively impact our children—why are we leading and feeding them down this road? 

Don’t get me wrong. I love FB. I’m learning Instagram. I LOVE that I’ve reconnected with friends and family and get to share in their lives. I say to keep an eye out for when it gets out of hand.

What are your thoughts on a generation of kids whose every move has been recorded and shared? Do you think moms should post photos of their kids all the time on social media? Do you think that has an effect on the children’s social media habits?

16 thoughts on “Are parents harming kids by posting pics online?

  1. I think occasional family photos shared online are wonderful. I think documenting them online every day is bad. Everything in life isn’t, and should not be a Kodak moment. Sometimes you need to live the moment and not make sure you have every Angle covered for posterity.

  2. I’m not one to share my kids online. An occasional, maybe once a year if there’s a really good photo of us, but otherwise no. But I have one kid who selfies often on snapchat as a way to keep in touch with friends. (at least that’s his excuse). The other one doesn’t do that selfie thing hardly at all. I take photos often of my kids and family but for my own enjoyment because I want to record that special moment. But you’re ahead of me. I have tons of photos (from when we had to get them developed) in boxes, but not albums. So good for you!

  3. The kids were older by the time we really got “into” using FB and so now I only post pictures of them on their birthdays or if we as a family are doing something and I have to get their permission before I post. If those are the old type photo albums that have the pages where you just stick the photos on them, please get them out of there. This scrapbooker cries when she sees things like that. Those pages were not made for posterity! LOL, sorry, just had to throw that in there.

    • Thank you for the advice on the photo albums. I’ve never done scrapbooking. It looks scary to me. Some of the albums have a single plastic sheet that goes over a white sticky page. The others have plastic sleeves per photo. The goal is to scan them into my computer.

      • Yes, there are programs that will help with that. I am the old fashioned type of scrapbooker with paper and embellishments. I can see how it might look scary. Scanning them is pretty simple but time consuming. I’d just hate for you to lose those memories 🙂

  4. It’s an important conversation to have because this is a generation that doesn’t even question it. Generation Z has never lived without access to the internet or social media, regardless of whether their parents had accounts or not. Friends and family members may have shared photos of them during events, for example.

    • I look at some of my nieces and nephews children and they are experts at posing at age two and three! Of course, my daughter’s pug is too! So true that we have a generation that has never known anything else.

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