I’ve often wondered how many parents’ obsession with posting every aspect of their personal lives on social media will affect their children. So many moms and dads publicly document every moment of their kids’ lives, including the good, the bad and the embarrassing.
A couple of week ago, we found out what one daughter of a famous couple thinks about it. Actress Gwyneth Paltrow posted a selfie with her 14-year-old daughter, Apple Martin. About an hour after it went up on Paltrow’s Instagram feed, her daughter commented, “Mom we have discussed this. You may not post anything without my consent.” Paltrow replied to Apple’s comment, “You can’t even see your face!” referring to the fact that her daughter was wearing ski goggles. But thousands of comments from Paltrow’s followers then debated who was in the right.
One commenter’s post chastising the 14-year-old has received 397 likes so far: “You are the child Apple, Gwyneth P is the mother. She doesn’t need your consent for much of anything.”
Another commenter wagged a finger at Paltrow by posting, “You need to have more respect for your kid and her desire for social media boundaries.” That comment has 358 likes. And although Apple (or someone) deleted her comment pleading for posting consent, it hasn’t stopped the debate.
While I have nowhere near the 5 million followers that Paltrow has on Instagram, I do have thousands of followers spread across a few different types of social media. From the time my kids were young, I decided to keep their private lives out of the public eye.
In my former life as a radio talk show host, my company required me to post on social media often. I knew I didn’t want to expose my children to the harsh comments I sometimes received on my posts. So I created two accounts for each social media platform, a private one and a public one. I have been careful about only posting photos on my public accounts that rarely include the faces of my children. I have reserved my private account for people I know in real life, and post all things family and leave out work-related posts, for the most part. I thought I had done it right. My children have recently informed me otherwise.
I have twins (a boy and a girl) who are about to graduate from high school, and a 12-year-old son. While they tell me they appreciate my efforts to preserve their privacy, I have done it all wrong.
They don’t care if strangers see their pictures. They tell me that in this social media age, they expect their images to be spread to the world in one way or another. But they want to give permission first — especially, they say, on my private account, because my friends there are people they actually know. They informed me that by posting photos and videos of them on my private account without permission, I have mortified them on more than one occasion. My 12-year-old brought up a photo I had posted of him four years ago when he felt he looked goofy and says he is still annoyed by it. My 17-year-old daughter posed the question, “How would you feel if I posted a photo of you that I liked, but you didn’t feel was very flattering?” That hit home. Of course, I would not appreciate that. While my children hadn’t brought this up to me very often before, they have convinced me to change my ways. I will no longer post photos of my children without their consent.3 comments on this story
In an ideal world, parents should be talking with their kids all the time about how everything they post on social media is there forever. Kids should realize that future employers, admissions counselors and even spouses will likely scour the web for images of their lives. Parents should realize that as well, and take note that the photos and videos we post of our children will also inform those potential employers’ opinion of our kids. Shouldn’t our children have some say in what their online life composition looks like? Of course. This right to privacy stands for every kid out there, whether their parents are famous or not.