This is an abridged reprint of a sponsored post from two years ago, and I am sharing parts of it again as this issue is as important as ever!
I am a parent blogger and post pictures and videos of and with my son on a regular basis. I have no issue with it, he has a bit of performer in him and he enjoys it, so we are comfortable with this decision. But I always have my mother’s voice in the back of my head, never post a picture of my son for anyone to see, ever, at any time. This is a topic I have thought about since day one as a parent, and one which I do not take lightly, but also do not take to the extreme my mom would like. I make sure to keep things light and positive and prefer to never share anything that I consider too personal or revealing for the protection of my son and my family, and I am extra cautious because we are a same sex couple with a child and do not trust the world to all feel supportive of us. My guard is always up, but I do share personal items.
I have always shared pictures of my son with more clothes on rather than less. I hate to even write the “P” word, but that is what my mom says is out there looking for pictures. That is why my Facebook page was initially set to friends only. And, now that he is about to turn 14, I have to explain to him that taking his own pictures is not something to be taken lightly, and that being on a sex offender list for sharing his or someone else’s revealing picture, has no minimum age. He needs to know that his peer group can be put on this list for life if any of them do anything stupid.
As a parent, I never share my son’s personal location information. I have never tagged his Elementary School, and I have never tagged his Middle School. I am uncomfortable with others if they tag us with a location when they share their pictures, but I have very little control over that. This is one of the strongest messages I have for other parents, this is a privacy concern that is of the utmost importance to me. I have no big issue with you seeing my child, but I do not want strangers to be able to find out where he is. I had a friend take down the name of our neighborhood from a post that had us tagged in.
My son is almost 14 and taller than me, i.e., no longer a “kid.” He censors me faster than anyone else, even my mom, because any picture of him now has to pass his coolness test, it cannot be anything that will be embarrassing, etc. And he ha final approval before I hit send. Because we are all on Instagram. Not just me, but my son. And his friends. And his friends parents. Almost all of us are on this social media channel and many of us are following each other. My friends follow my son and vice versa. My son’s friends follow me and vice versa. These are people that I trust and I feel quite strongly that this is also an extra tool to have more, rather than less, adults keeping an eye on my child and his safety online.
And safety online now means two very distinctive things. The first is for my child’s protection, I and my community have to make sure no inappropriate conversations are occurring. No one out of the group is initiating contact with our children. And none of these children are posting things that they shouldn’t, which with the disappearing posts of Snapchat is now very difficult.
I believe in the parents role as online POLICE. I have read many articles, seen many news stories, and heard through the grapevine of inappropriate actions happening online with teenagers in our area and in the country. I want to be ready to nip any of these behaviors by my son and his friends in the bud. And I am happy to announce to everyone that I make no bones about the vigilance I believe is important in watching our kids. I was a bit of a helicopter parent when we were playing outdoors and am now the same with online actions. I strongly believe parents have to be, it can be very dangerous out there.
The last topic related to protected your child online is about protecting them from themselves. My son has a smart phone as do most of his friends, as do many young children. They are computer experts, all of them, and have access to many dangerous things on their own. I can only do so much to protect my son, I teach him what is OK to view, and what is taboo. And then I have to take it a step further and make sure he never has his phone behind closed doors. He has Internet access on his smart phone and to reiterate, can visit many online sites that are not age appropriate, and it becomes very difficult for us to protect our curious children. He also has a computer that is strictly monitored, mostly because these kids can click on anything enticing and download computer viruses.
What’s your opinion? This is an important topic for everyone. How do you manage your kids online? Can they be trusted to self police? Can they be trusted to not over share? And what do you share or not share in relation to your kids and/or location? I think this is an important conversation for all of us to have and continue the dialogue!