5 Tips for Parents Using Social Media

Social Media has become a huge part of all of our lives. It is crazy to think that just 10 years ago, social media was not a ‘thing’ at all. Now it is what we do more than anything else online. It is how many people start and end their day. It is how we keep up with friends and family all over the world. It is how we get our news. It is where many of us turn for help and recommendations.

I have been writing about, speaking on, and teaching business and individuals about how to use social media for almost a decade. I have lived that delicate balance of online ‘public’ life and still trying to maintain an off-line private life.

Since my son has been born, I have thought even more about social media and its role in our lives. Social media has brought us a lot of opportunities as parents. We can keep up with our friends who have children and feel like we are a part of their lives. We can hop online when we feel stuck, alone, or overwhelmed and find that millions of other parents out there feel the same way we do. We can get tips for dealing with different stages, recipes for school lunches that should be recognized on foodie blogs, and brag about our children’s accomplishments.

Sharenting is a word used to describe parents oversharing information about their children on social media.

There are lots of articles on teaching your children to be smart about using social media, but there are far less on how to be a smart parent on social media. How can we use social media to keep in touch and learn from others but keep our children’s needs in mind?

Here are five tips I have on how to be thoughtful about our ‘sharenting’:

  1. Know your privacy settings – Every social media site you participate on has privacy settings. Facebook has a great Privacy Checkup that easily explains who can see what on your posts. Take a few minutes on each site you participate on to know who can see what.
  2. Create a locked down group – When my son was born I created a 100% locked down private group on Facebook. The only people in it are immediate family and our nearest and dearest. Those are the people that want to see pictures from school, art projects, and our weekend activities the most. This way they feel connected and engaged but we aren’t sharing all of those delicate details with the world.
  3. Get creative! – Show your artistic side by sharing what you are doing, but not every detail. My social media feeds have lots of pictures of the back of my son’s head. We also have epic pictures of our dinosaurs and superheroes on adventures of their own. They are fun to create and my son loves to help stage the pictures.Sharenting Tips
  4. Make fun photobooks – I LOVE taking pictures of our adventures and the quality of the photos we can take with our smartphones is amazing. For the past few years, I have taken those photos off-line and made photobooks to have at home and give as gifts to friends and family. We love flipping through them to relive our adventures.
  5. Be thoughtful – We have never been in this time before. We face different challenges and have different opportunities than generations before. Sometimes just taking a step back and being thoughtful about what you post, when you post, and why you are posting makes all the difference.

Were you ever picked on as a child? Could you imagine if a bully got a handle on an old post about how difficult you were to potty train? Or a picture of you trying on your mother’s makeup?

Remember the embarrassment of bringing a boyfriend/girlfriend home to meet your family and getting exposed to baby books or home albums? What if every person we dated had access to every picture that was posted online about us?

As they get older, you can talk to them about social media, and even ask their permission before you post something but… I know I had lots of ‘good’ ideas when I was young that I am really happy aren’t documented online.

We are fortunate to have tools, online networks, and friends dialed into our daily lives. It can make parenting more connected, fun, and give us resources we didn’t have before. We just need to think about our children and their privacy as we navigate this new online world. They should get a choice in their identity too.

Amanda O’Brien is the Director of Business Development at flyte new media and organizer of Social Media Breakfast Maine

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