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My kid threw a fit when she saw the photos I had posted of her online. I think she’s overreacting—everyone knows she was just a child at the time—but what do you think?

“Sharenting” is when parents share news and pictures of their kids online. The practice isn’t entirely new, of course. Parents have been embarrassing their kids with their pictures for a long time. Social media just allows us to show more pictures to more people more often. These online chronicles of our lives can be great—but they can also be a problem.

What might have been a one-time showing to family and friends is now available to anyone with an evening to kill scrolling through Facebook. Instead of laughing at bare-bottomed little Jimmy getting a bath in the kitchen sink years later at his wedding reception, social media allows those images to be available immediately and for all time.

By social media account registration rules, your beloved would need to be 13 years old to see what you’ve been doing behind her back—an age that’s a critical identity-forming time in a child’s development. What seems cute and innocent to you could be devastating when viewed or commented on in other settings by friends, less-than-friends, or possibly by bullies.

A healthy relationship requires trust and respect. If your kid or grandkid asks you to pull their picture, I suggest you do so immediately. And next time, before posting, take the opportunity to ask first. This could be the start of a great conversation. You get a chance to tell each other what you like or don’t like about the picture and why you may or may not want to share it. And when you honor her wishes to post or not to post, she will learn something about the power she has over her own image and perhaps how to wield that power appropriately as she journeys forth online.

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