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Challenge: Kids and Technology

Why parents should ask permission to post photos of their child on social media

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Here’s the scenario: Your child is old enough to understand the basics of social media but not old enough to have their own device. This age will vary — for some, it’ll be as young as six. For others, as old as 11 or 12. Maybe even older, depending on their access to and experience with technology. Regardless, they understand that when mom or dad takes their picture and posts it, the following can happen:

  • Other people, even people they don’t know, could see it regardless of the post’s privacy settings. #screenshot
  • Other people, even potential strangers, depending on privacy settings, can “like” it or say something about it.
  • Other people (maybe strangers) can see these likes and comments.

Before sharing their personal moments with the world, get their permission. It sets a high standard.

When are they old enough to ask?

You probably posted photos of your child online in the past — sometimes Instagram is a baby-filled Baby Land of babies. But once they’ve matured enough, are curious enough, or have been exposed to more technology, it’s time to start seriously coaching them on how to win at social.

Ideally, you are still the primary role model in a way you may not be in the future. They, perhaps literally, still look up to you. That said, it’s never too late to start.

Once you get their permission, it’s time to huddle. Let the social media coaching begin!

What’s a huddle?

Great question. A huddle is a short one-on-one conversation you have with your child about an experience they or you have had on social media. That’s it. It’s a chance to naturally reinforce high standards.

It could start with something they come to you about — a group text that went south or a bullying incident they saw and don’t know how to handle — or with something you come to them with — such as a new platform you don’t know how to use or a post you found encouraging or funny.

In this case, it’s a huddle about why, where, and how you are sharing a particular photo of your child.

Why should we huddle about my posts?

Because you are posting photos of them when they are old enough to understand — perhaps even in ways you can’t — at least some of the consequences.

If you’re the parent of a middle- or high-schooler in 2018, there’s a good chance that your mom and dad didn’t share your baby photos on social media. A recruiter can’t Google your name and see your eighth-grade graduation pics. Your boss can’t stumble upon your naked toddler self in the bath tub.

Child in bathtub

Child in bath tub by Michael Zeising on Flickr

But for many kids today, this is not just possible but probable. So huddle with them before you share the next photo.

What should we talk about?

Here are a few things you could cover:

What things to show in a photo and what to crop out or avoid getting the frame — Protect your privacy like you’re famous. Make sure your photos are showing only what you don’t mind the world knowing about, including your address, your school, your license plate, etc. Talk about the pros and cons of using filters and other photo editing tools.

Why you want to share that photo — Explain what it is about a particular photograph of your child that makes you want to share it on social media.

Which privacy settings are possible — Talk about who will definitely see the photo. For example, Facebook’s Audience Selector tool, lets you carefully limit who can see what, post by post. It’s on the bottom right of the status update box.
Audience Selector tool

Audience Selector tool

You can also create a Facebook Scrapbook for your child(ren), which automatically collects tagged images in an album, where only the Facebook friends you allowed to see each post can (again) see the photos.

What it means to tag the location of a post — Talk about being able to determine where someone lives and works based on where their photos are taken most often — that this information is public. Make sure you are both up to speed on the latest privacy settings on that platform.

Why some photos get likes and comments and others don’t — Seeing the likes and comments come in may make you feel good, but not every post is going to generate a response like that. And that’s OK. Just share what you care about most. You value the image enough to share it, and that’s all that matters.


Yes. Regular huddling is the key to coaching your child to win at social. Ask their permission before sharing their photos with the world, involve them in the posting process, watch the likes/comments together, and talk it all through.

They will be glad you did.

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