Sharing Is Staring

Priya Kumar explores the pros and cons of sharing baby photos on social media:

It’s tempting to suggest that parents shouldn’t post baby pictures online, but this ignores the very real benefits they experience from doing so. Sharing pictures online helped the mothers I toastinterviewed feel connected with family and friends, which is especially important for parents whose friends and family don’t live nearby. They received social support and validation, which is helpful when dealing with loss of sleep and the overwhelming responsibility of caring for a tiny human being. For those who cherished their experience of motherhood, sharing pictures online created a record of those memories. Also, family and friends constantly ask to see more baby pictures, so parents may feel some pressure to share them online.

At the same time, mothers recognized that by sharing pictures online, they were making decisions on behalf of their children that couldn’t be easily reversed. Eventually, their children would grow up and develop opinions about what they wanted their parents to share and not share online. Rather than seek to control their children’s digital footprints, parents can engage in what we call privacy stewardship. This means that parents should consider what types of information they feel are and are not appropriate to share about their children online and then communicate their preferences to family and friends.

(Photo by Betsy Bodenner)