This past summer, we went to South Africa as the International AIDS Conference was taking place in Durban and I had a poster session. Two summers ago, we went to Melbourne where I had another presentation on some of my research. Two summers ago, my son couldn’t quite get the purpose of the trip. This past summer he did. I was happy, proud and in awe. He asked me what my research was about and he memorized my main research findings. What a little ham he was. Rather, what a little grown up man he was becoming. That point right there made me a bit sad.
As we wandered the halls of the convention center, I kept bumping into colleagues and friends from the field. Almost universally, they all greeted my son by saying “I know so much about you!” He then started getting uncomfortable and asked me if I posted photographs of him online. I explained I post only the sweetest photos of him on Facebook. He then asked me to stop. I had to ask him why. He was only seven years old so he explained it to me in the voice of a seven year old.
Ok. Message somewhat received. I now ask him if I can post certain photos online. When he does give me permission he notes that he does so because “it looks cool.” And that is at the crux of the matter. He cares about his image. It is his image. He is my child. My baby. But his image is his. I need to remember that. All parents need to remember that.
No need to post photos of the baby as he or she is learning to use the potty. You can take the photo, but don’t post it. You got an awesome photograph of your child throwing a temper tantrum. Cool. But don’t post it. Don’t engage in crazy, overbearing “sharenting.” Use common sense as to what might prove to be embarrassing for your kid in the future. Ask yourself how would your kid feel if bullies at their future school got a hold of the photo. Actually, not even bullies. It could come up in a Presidential campaign and we have seen how brutal those have become where everything is taken out of context. As a parent you want your kid to have all the advantages you didn’t as a kid. Why place a photo albatross on your kid’s future?
Recently went Halloween costume shopping for my son. Even though Halloween is still a few days away, he has been wearing his costume all week long. He loves the outfit and has been running all over our house with it on. I managed to snap a quick photo of him during one of his runs. He thought it was a super cool photo and gave me permission to post it because it is cool. Permission granted.