My daughter deserves privacy on social media—and I’m going to give it to her

Social media is a part of my daily life. I use it to connect with others, share my stories, or simply to have fun. Good, bad, or other, it doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon.

That’s exactly why I find it so important to step back a moment and consider its effect on myself and my daughter. Over the last few months, I have reconsidered a lot about my online posting habits. Because sometimes what appears to be a simple habit ends up carrying a greater meaning than I first thought.

My social media app of choice is Instagram. Since I began using it, the opportunity to hone my photographer’s eye with every picture I take made this tool a great outlet for the creative side of me.

Once I became a mother my posts got more focused... on the subject of motherhood, of course! I’d spend all day at home with my daughter so naturally most of my pictures were of her on my private account. This in turn lead me to connect with a lot of other young mothers who shared a similar lifestyle. To this day, I still enjoy being part of a community of mothers that fosters open and honest conversation by embracing all aspects of their vocation.

Yet, although I love tosee photos of babies and all the details of motherhood, when I changed my account to public, I found myself questioning the amount I chose to share.

Then one day my husband brought up his concern for our daughter. Given that he does not have an Instagram account he was often unaware of the content I was posting. So we sat down and had a conversation. We asked a lot of questions.

How often am I sharing photos of our daughter? Is this a positive force in my life and therefore in my daughter’s? Is my usage affecting her negatively? Is there a negative intention behind this post? Does she know what I’m sharing of her online? Are there any consequences either now or down the road?

These questions may seem unnecessary—and sometimes I think “It’s just Instagram. It’s just for fun. It’s just a picture.” It is something I struggle with as (more often than not) I just want to post post post!

But I believe there is something bigger my husband and I are being called to as parents.

We used to share photo albums with family. Now we share feeds with strangers.

The world has changed and I feel I’ve changed with it. But part of me wants to be different.

For me and my family, opening up this conversation was a critical step to take. We needed to determine what social media is and does for us, and make our own rules together as a family.

In the end, we determined it would be helpful to come up with ground rules so that we could have peace of mind about our daughter’s safety and privacy, and about all the content I choose to post.

These rules include:

1. Be conscious of each post and evaluate it carefully

2. Respect our daughter’sprivacy by limiting the frequency of posts of her as the subject.

3. Limit the amount of exposure of her personal details.

4. Have a positive intention behind each post.

5. Take a break from posting too often.

6. Always be willing to have an open conversation about concerns.

Even though social media is here and touches virtually everything, it doesn’t mean I need to let it change me or take away my freedom, values, and privacy.

In fact, I believe it is part of my motherly duty to consider this global, ubiquitous technology and assess what part I want to play in it—and what part it plays in my life. That’s where my strength as a mother lies: standing up for my child in ways only I can.

Ashley is a mother, wife and writer in west Michigan.

Read more at her blog, A Mother’s Window.

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