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Can you think of a more irresistibly photogenic creature than your dimpled baby triumphantly hoisting a plump fist full of birthday cake? Or any subject more closeup-ready than your unsteady toddler taking their first steps?

So with a camera always just a few swipes away, these are the kind of moments many of us capture without a thought. And often, without a second thought, we take the extra minute to share these memories online. After all, what parent could resist?

This instinct is a normal one—and one that existed well before the dawn of the internet. "Remember Grandma's brag books? Parents and grandparents always feel the need to share," says Pamela B. Rutledge, PhD, Director at Media Psychology Research Center.

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Sharing gives us a way of appreciating or savoring the experience with the bonus of getting social validation, Rutledge says. "Sharing can also be a way of normalizing one's experience as a parent — feeling like you are doing things the right way; reaffirming your identity as a parent."

However, even though we're not alone in our desire to race to the virtual rooftops and shout the most adorable aspects of our kids' lives (one survey found that 30% of parents post a photo or video of their child at least once a day), this urge directly conflicts with the cautionary tales we hear about the internet's darkest corners. Tougher still can be pinpointing which risks are real and which are internet lore (remember the Momo challenge hoax?).

As parents, the world, and particularly the internet, can feel like a scary place. But we can't write the web off as wholly sinister — nor can we pretend like it's a panacea. Because right now, we simply don't know.

Millennial parents are essentially pioneers in this sweeping gray area that is parenting online. There is no roadmap. The best we can do is evaluate the information we do have and use it to make choices that align with our comfort level.

"It's complex. We're the first generation of parents to raise kids online, and our kids are the first generation to grow up under the watchful eyes of their parents' newsfeed," says Stacey Steinberg, a law professor at the University of Florida and author of the upcoming book Growing Up Shared. "So it's this really unique generation that we're trying to navigate, and there's not a lot of data to drive our decision-making."

We've been able to document our own lives online for the past 15 years or so. For many parents today, that's only about half our lives or less. But our children's social media presence may have pre-dated their births.

One study by internet security firm AVG found that 92 percent of children in the U.S. have an online presence before the age of two, and nearly a quarter of kids made their online debut before they entered the world thanks to ultrasound photos posted by their parents. And it's important to note that this research came out in 2010. For context, since then, Instagram has grown by an estimated million users to a billion. That's potentially a lot more sonogram photos.

What's the harm in sharing?

Because the internet is forever shape-shifting and we have yet to see the long-term effects of our sharing right now, the line between sharing and oversharing is a moving target. Navigating this chasm starts with understanding the tangible risks involved with sharing online, so let's break those down. The risks tend to fall into two categories:

1. Virtual theft

When you share something about your child online, you don't have full control over who has access to that information or how they'll use it. Anything you share online has the potential to be viewed by anyone anywhere in the world, warns Rebecca Herold, an information security, privacy, and compliance consultant and CEO at The Privacy Professor. "As long as one other person online has access to your child's photo or video, you are trusting that they are not going to take that photo and share it in ways that you would not want them to," she says.

Probably the least threatening manifestation of this is that companies are constantly collecting information on all of us — including our children — so they can better target us with advertisements. At the most nefarious end of the spectrum, sometimes innocent photos of children are stolen to be used for illicit purposes.

Then, of course, there's identity theft, which is becoming a real threat thanks to the sheer volume of information available online. In 2018, the bank Barclay's forecasted that parents sharing personal information about their children online will account for two-thirds of identity fraud by 2030.

"Babies are common targets because their identities can be criminally used for many years before your child reaches an age where they will be applying for a loan, credit card, etc, and subsequently discover they've been an identity theft victim," Herold says.

According to Barclay's the pieces of information that make your child most vulnerable to identity fraud are: full name, home address, and birthdate. Chances are, you aren't straight up Tweeting your social security number, but you may be revealing more than you think with an online birth announcement that details your child's full name and birthdate or a geotagged photo that gives away your home address.

2. Your child's digital legacy

Another important consideration for parents is their child's digital footprint, Steinberg says. Parents may be posting for years, shaping their child's digital reputation, before their child fully grasps the concept of online sharing and how to construct their own identities publicly.

When kids are old enough, they may feel exposed since these images were posted without consent and want to take back control of their images, Rutledge says. "One difficult issue is the boundary between parent and child. Parents share what their kids do as a reflection of their role as a parent. In many cases, this is about the parent more than the child," she explains. "At the same time, these are the child's images that are being posted and shared." She adds that by posting images, not only do parents make them searchable, but they also might unintentionally giving another party permission to reuse them.

Share smarter

"While there are concerns, I'm in no way suggesting parents stop sharing altogether," Steinberg says. "I'm suggesting they make well-informed choices with regards to what they share."

Take a look at the privacy policies on the social media platforms you use. "Review the site's terms and conditions, sometimes hidden within the site's privacy notice/policy, to understand the specific types of data that is collected when you post," Herold says.

While you're at it, check the settings on your devices. "Find out how much information is being saved on that device and how much is being shared," says Denise Lisi DeRosa, an online safety expert and founder of Cyber Sensible. "You want to make sure you're not always sharing your exact location, which could be your home address."

And there are certain things experts advise not posting at all:

  • Pictures of your child in any state of undress. Images like this could make your child a target for predators. "Maybe your child is wrapped in a towel or the towel is half off. That's a cute photo to share with Grandma — not with Facebook," DeRosa says.
  • Identifying details. This includes location information that might give away where you live or where your child attends school.
  • Something that may be embarrassing later. This one is totally subjective, but consider how your child might feel in the future. "Even though it's cute now, it might not be cute in five or 10 years when their friends see it," DeRosa says. Aired grievances may also not age well. Think about whether or not this is something you'd share publicly offline. "I wouldn't walk into a movie theater and stand up and shout, 'I'm trying to potty train, does anybody have suggestions?'"

Give your kids a say in sharing

As soon as your children are old enough — around 5 or 6 — engage them in conversations about what you share, and as they get older, give them veto power over what information is shared, Steinberg says.

Having a conversation is always a good idea, but it has to be age-appropriate, Rutledge adds. "A 4-year-old is not going to understand what it means to have images public," she says. "They might understand the intention of putting a picture where Grandma can see it, but they won't understand that, in five years, someone may find a picture and tease them about it. The conversation should continue periodically."

One place to start might be right after you take a photo. As you look at that picture, talk to your child about where it might be going. If you post it and someone leaves a comment, let them read it and give them a chance to respond, Steinberg says. Inviting your child to look at social media with you gives them training wheels before they ride solo with their own accounts. It's an opportunity for you to model courtesy and responsible online behavior.

And as you share some of the consequences of sharing online, you can also share the positives with your children. "It's really important for parents to talk about [the] many benefits of sharing. It helps us connect with family and friends who live far away. It helps us build our communities and online relationships and networks, Steinberg says. "There's a lot of power in our narrative when we share our vulnerabilities. So many good things come from sharing online, and I never want to silence a parent's voice."

Ultimately, you have to weigh the risks and benefits and make the decision that feels right for you and your family, whether that means going analog with your photo-sharing and filling the plastic-coated pages of an old-school brag book or documenting your child's daily life — or falling somewhere in between — is up to you.

"Just as we have regular conversations about how we feed our kids and discipline our kids, we need to have more regular conversations about how we share about our kids," she says. "There are more questions than there are answers, so this isn't about judging, it's about trying to move the conversation forward."

This story originally appeared on Apparently.

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Here I go again, wearing my troubles on my brow. Troubles and worries this furrow cannot hide—at least not from you, my love.

You know me all too well.

You know the one thing I need when I'm sad isn't a girl's night out, but instead, a good hard cry in your arms and for you to tell me I'm enough. Not enough because of my motherhood, my job, or my cooking, but simply because I'm enough.

You know that even though you've told me I'm sexy a million times in one evening, I'll need to hear it again in a few days when I'm in my sweat pants, no makeup on, eating a tub of freezer burnt ice cream, feeling real grumpy from PMS.

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You know that when I get anxious and afraid, I don't need you to coddle me or become a codependent accomplice to my fears, but instead I need you to give me a gentle nudge back to reality.

You know me all too well.

You know how embarrassed I was about you witnessing me poop myself during labor, so you still deny that you saw it to this day.

You know that when I say, "I'm fine," it really means "No, I'm not fine, but I'm too stubborn to say so."

You know that me not wanting sexy time after the kids have gone to bed has nothing to do with motherhood fatigue, but rather how much I hated my body today.

You know that when you tell me to do something, I won't do it out of pure rebellion, but if we're honest, that's one of the reasons you love me so much.

You know that when I get all dolled up, ready to hit the town, the more makeup I put on, the more insecure I'm feeling about myself.

You know how guilty I felt after yelling at our 8-year-old for being an 8-year-old, so you made sure you told me what an amazing mother I was for the mere fact of feeling guilty and apologizing for it.

You know that when I'm feeling off, you need to fill in the gaps in household work, so I don't completely get overwhelmed with tasks.

You know that me dieting is never a good idea, so you tell me even more times than usual that I'm beautiful and perfect just the way I am.

You know that my laughter comes out most when it's ignited by you—you never stop trying to be funny, just so you can hear me laugh again.

You know that when you look at me that way, it still gives me butterflies, so you make sure you do it at least once a day.

You know that loving me is a choice, but it's never felt like a choice—more so like the reason you live.

You know that after a fight, it's harder for me to forget than for you, so you hold me extra tight for as long as it takes to get back to us.

You know that I wished I had more friends, but hesitate to make an effort because I'm afraid of rejection.

You know me enough to know that I never want you to stop knowing me more deeply, so you keep discovering and learning more about who I am, even after 10 years together.

You know me all too well, my love.

So much so, that I can no longer hide my sorrows, my laughter, my insecurities, my flaws or failures. You've seen it all; you know it all. And despite it all—despite knowing everything about me, you still love me.

Thank you for loving even the darkest parts of me.

Thank you for being loyal to even the worst of me.

Thank you for being exactly who you are. I love you.

Life

Dear past me,

This is future you writing. The one who has been through the full nine months of pregnancy. The one who gave birth and breastfed and stayed up all night with a baby full of gas and sore gums. This isn't you, yet.

But it will be.

It's hard for you to fathom that you will become me. You look at other mothers, mothers with squirming 1-year-olds or rampaging toddlers, but all that seems so far away. You can't marry it together, your bump with those giggling, giddy kids. It seems miraculous that one will become the other. It's too hard to believe.

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But it will happen.

Right now you hold the baby inside of you. You are the only one who feels every kick as he wiggles and wriggles around. How can you begin to imagine how it will feel to pass that baby, that baby that inhabits you, that lives because you live, to someone else?

Sometimes it will be hard, to watch your precious little one getting passed around. He'll seem so vulnerable out there without your stretched skin protecting him inside the cocoon of your stomach. But it will also be wonderful.

Just wait. Just wait until your mother meets him for the first time, the little quiver in her voice as she tells you he's beautiful. It will remind you of the first time you brought your husband home to meet her, your boyfriend as he was then, and you knew that she knew that this man was special.

I know you dream of it, your husband holding his child, the child you brought into the world, for the first time. You imagine how it will feel to see them together. Will there be pride? Or worry? Will you feel happy? Will you feel put out?

Let me tell you.

You will feel all of those things, like watching a film in 3D high resolution with surround sound. Every emotion is more intense than ever before, so intense it is overwhelming. You'll apologize to your husband for taking the baby back because he's screaming and he probably needs feeding. You'll feel like your intruding on their life-affirming moment, when you ask your husband to pass him to you so you can try, again, to get him to latch on. The midwife will tell you not to apologize, that it's your responsibility to feed him and that's the priority. She's so sure and confident, even in the way she handles your precious newborn. That doesn't live inside you yet.

But it will.

Time will race away from you and, before you know it, you'll be spoon-feeding puréed vegetables from little Tupperware pots. You'll be tired. More tired than you are now when the baby kicks every time you get comfortable enough to fall asleep.

But time flies by.

And someday soon you will be me, the mother of a 2-year-old. It's the same baby you carried in your stomach, that made your belly wobble when he hiccupped and that kicked you when you drank orange juice. It's the same one you gave birth to, the one you brought home from the hospital and placed in the crib next to your bed on that first night in the house.

Yet, he's different now. He's more whole somehow, a proper little person. He doesn't know all the names for the parts of a face so when you call him a cheeky monkey, he strokes his chin and giggles. He loves wearing hats—bobble hats, summer hats, it doesn't matter which—and he pulls them off better than you ever could.

He's so perfect and wonderful and some days you'll feel like you're not good enough for him. You'll be utterly convinced that any moment he'll figure you out. "Mommy," you imagine him saying, "you're not that funny after all. And the activities you do with us aren't very exciting, no matter how hard you try and make buying bananas fun. Can I get a different mommy?" Of course, he'll never actually say this.

Because he loves you.

It was obvious from the start, in the way he used to look for you when someone else was holding him, searching you out in the room, making sure you were close by. He loved you when he gave you his first smile, his first giggle, his first step. I know you're worried you'll miss it because you have to go back to work, but he'll save it for you, the stumbling toddle across the room from mommy to daddy and back again. It will be your reward for making it through the first year of parenting. By the time he's two he'll treat you by telling you he loves you, stroking your face and smiling because that's what you do to him. He knows it means love.

All of this will come. Take my word for it; I'm the future you and I've lived it. But right now, enjoy these precious pregnancy moments because, even though it feels like it will never end, you won't be pregnant forever. Breathe every second of it in.

But also know this: the best is yet to come.



Love,

The future you

Life

I don't think anyone told me I was "glowing" either time I was pregnant. I'm not sure that is the word I would have used to describe me in the early months, either—nauseated is more like it, or tired. Add to that some extra-dry skin and acne like I hadn't had since middle school, and let's just say I wasn't feeling my most beautiful. Apparently I wasn't alone.

"Hormonal changes, and, of course, all the ways your life is changing, can lead to some unpleasant skin changes during pregnancy," says Diana Spalding, Motherly's Digital Education Editor, midwife and writer of The Mother Guide to Becoming Mama. "It's so easy to get dehydrated during pregnancy, which can lead to issues like dryness and itchiness. And nights spent tossing and turning (because how is anyone supposed to sleep with all those sweet baby kicks?!) can lead to dark circles."

If you're suffering from any of the common pregnancy skin issues, but you don't want to pile chemicals on your skin, there are natural, healthy pregnancy-safe makeup and skin care products out there for you. Some even contain treatment ingredients that could help alleviate your skin symptoms, all while covering them up in the meantime. It's also worth noting that the FDA maintains an updated list and categorization of ingredients used in beauty and cosmetic products women should avoid if they are pregnant. A few include: retin-a, hydroquinone, formaldehyde, dihydroxyacetone, benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acids.

Just remember that sometimes itching skin can be a sign of a "serious complication known as cholestasis, so definitely check in with your midwife or OB before trying to treat the issue on your own," says Spalding.

The bottom line is, whatever your pregnancy skin care issues are, we've got you covered.

Here is what you need to fix eight common pregnancy skin problems:

For oily skin: RMS Beauty 'Un' Powder

Un Powder RMS BEAUTY

Sweaty? Oily? Yup, you can thank those pregnancy hormones for that! The RMS "un" powder can help! This ultra-fine, super-silky powder has only two ingredients (mica and silica—not to be confused with silicone) and will never give you a white cast. It's so sheer but so effective. We promise no one will know you're wearing powder.

$34

For dull skin: Plant Makeup Pink Rose Shimmer Balm

Plant Makeup\u2019s Pink Rose Shimmer Balm

Pregnancy can make a lady tired, and along with fatigue comes dull skin. Plant Makeup's Pink Rose Shimmer Balm to the rescue! Made by hand with French pink clay and pure natural mica, this very subtle balm moisturizes, highlights and adds a little sparkle. We love that it's not glittery, but rather reflects light for a hint of highlighting.

$3

For breakouts: Juice Beauty Photo Pigments Perfecting Concealer

Juice Beauty Phyto-pigments Perfecting Concealer

Oh, hello, pimples. We meet again. Juice Beauty's Photo Pigments Perfecting Concealer will mask your blemishes while healing them with organic coconut oil, known for its antibacterial, anti-fungal and antimicrobial properties.

Editor tip: For best results, warm formula with finger or brush before application.

$25

​ For dry + itchy skin: Suntegrity 5 in 1 Tinted Face Suncsreen

Suntegrity 5 in 1 Tinted Face Sunscreen

Winter months can take a toll on your skin, and with low temps come flakes, bumps and cracks. And if you're pregnant, dry skin can during this time can be even worse. So how about a multitasking product that moisturizes, soothes and protects while providing a light tint for that no-makeup look? If you suffer from parched and dry skin during pregnancy, Suntegrity 5-in-1 Natural Moisturizing face sunscreen is the product for you.

$45

For dark circles under eyes: W3ll People Bio Correcting Multi-Action Concealer

W3LL PEOPLE Bio Correct Multi-Action Concealer

Tossing and turning at night because you cannot get comfortable? You know what that means. Dark circles and puffy eyes are sure to appear. We love W3LL PEOPLE Bio Correct Multi-Action Concealer because it contains caffeine, so while the gorgeous mineral pigments cover those circles, the caffeine also depuffs your under-eye area.

$22.99

For capillaries + visible veins: Gressa Minimalist Corrective Serum Foundation

Gressa Skin Minimalist Corrective Serum Foundation

During pregnancy, your veins may make your body look like a country map. Nothing to worry about, your network of veins is actually here to carry your increasing blood supply and provide a support system to your growing baby. Unfortunately, you may also experience spider veins (also spider angiomas or spider nevi) on your face, which is also due to increased blood circulation. Gressa Skin Minimalist Corrective Serum Foundation is a serum-to-powder formula, almost like a multi-vitamin for your skin and provides seamless coverage.

$62

For dark brown spots: 14e Aloe Nourish Foundation

Aloe Nourish Foundation

Are you noticing, dark, blotchy brown spots on your cheeks and forehead? Blame it on an estrogen surge stimulating melanin production. Aloe Nourish Foundation by 14e Cosmetics provides medium, buildable coverage while leaving you feeling weightless with a satin semi-matte finish. It has only a few ingredients, and its base is aloe, which means it soothes as it covers.

$38

For tired eyes: Alima Pure Natural Definition Mascara

Alima Pure mascara

In my opinion, nothing wakes up a face like a good mascara. Alima Pure's Natural Definition Mascara makes one that's super-subtle, if you're not much of a makeup wearer and don't want to look like you suddenly went all-out.

$22

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

Beauty + Style Shopping Guides

When we buy baby gear we expect it to be safe, and while no parent wants to hear that their gear is being recalled we appreciate when those recalls happen as a preventative measure—before a baby gets hurt.

That's the case with the recent recall of Baby Trend's Tango Mini Stroller. No injuries have been reported but the recall was issued because a problem with the hinge joints mean the stroller can collapse with a child in it, which poses a fall risk.

"As part of our rigorous process, we recently identified a potential safety issue. Since we strongly stand by our safety priority, we have decided to voluntarily recall certain models of the Tango Mini Strollers. The recalled models, under excessive pressure, both hinge joints could release, allowing the stroller to collapse and pose a fall hazard to children. Most importantly, Baby Trend has received NO reports of injuries," the company states on its website.

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The strollers were sold through Amazon and Target in October and November 2019 and cost between $100 and $120. If you've got one you should stop using it and contact Baby Trend for a refund or replacement.

Four models are impacted by this recall:

  • Quartz Pink (Model Number ST31D09A)
  • Sedona Gray (Model Number ST31D10A)
  • Jet Black (Model Number ST31D11A)
  • Purest Blue (Model Number ST31D03A

"If you determine that you own one of these specific model numbers please stop using the product and contact Baby Trend's customer service at 1-800-328-7363 or via email at info@babytrend.com," Baby Trend states.

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