I recently met a young woman reveling in her role as a first-time parent. She mentioned she’s the first of her group of friends to have a child and, because of that, was concerned about how much information to share on social media regarding her new life and new baby.
Her concern is very valid. It’s difficult to determine proper etiquette, especially for new parents who find themselves amidst a fog of exhaustion while staring at the squishy face of what surely is the most perfect baby in the history of perfect babies.
As a mother, I understand the impulse to share every nuance with your cyber friends, but before you do that, remember that not everyone shares your wonderment.
Before you alienate many of your childless friends by documenting every single aspect of motherhood, follow these simple social media rules for new parents:
- Do not post photos or videos of the delivery. This is a big one! While I agree that childbirth is an amazing process, it’s not something to be shared on social media. Not many people are excited to see photos of your princess before she’s been cleaned and wrapped in that ubiquitous hospital blanket, or, even worse, your baby-making parts.
- What happens in the bathroom should stay in the bathroom. What is it about parents and baby’s bathroom habits? I once sat next to two moms at a rehearsal dinner that spent the entire time talking about the pitfalls and successes of potty training their toddler sons. Diaper explosions, finger painting with poop, potty-training accidents…none of these scenes should be shared on social media.
- Don’t post hourly updates of your child. I know this will be hard since we’ve already established yours is the most perfect baby in the history of perfect babies. But please try to avoid multiple posts per day.
- Don’t post photos of other people’s children without their express consent. This unwritten rule is well understood by most parents. Some parents don’t want their children on Facebook or other social media sites at all, but some just want the chance to post the cute pictures themselves. Always ask before uploading that snapshot.
- Remember to create some balance. Parenting is overwhelming and all encompassing, but you had interests before the baby. Along with baby info, comment or post about other non-baby-related news.
- Consider your child’s safety and adult-self. Online security experts suggest parents exercise caution when posting photos and other personal information about their kids. Each time you post data about your child on social media you’re creating an online profile for them. Also, many people are starting to wonder whether it’s safe, or even ethical, to publish so much about someone who can’t give consent. As a safety issue, using a child’s full name, birth date or clearly identifiable home information is cause for identity theft or worse. Check your privacy settings regularly, as they do change. The second issue is more about consent. What type of information would your child want to see online about himself in 15 or 20 years? And what type of photos would be cause for pause from a future employer or college admissions officer?
This is a great time to be a new parent. Social media gives us the ability to instantaneously communicate with family and friends.
Reaching out to your social network can be an excellent lifeline when your daily companion hasn’t learned to talk. But remember that social media is a modern day conversation, and nobody likes people who monopolize conversations.