A few months ago, I made the decision to step away from social media. I'd like to give you an update soon on how it has impacted my life, but today I'd like to explore one of the first reasons that got me rethinking my social media use. It has to do with my children.
When I first learned about YouTube, I loved seeing videos of family vlogs. I even created a few videos with my kids, and I especially loved sharing my day to day mom life on Instagram and Facebook. I mostly did it because my family enjoyed it especially, and because I like showing others my children's cute moments. Its also sweet to look back at these written posts or videos.
However, social media has taken some steps away from what it originally was, a family and close friends community, to a more business like community where you can brand yourself to reach your ambitious personal goals. Somewhere along the way, I became uncomfortable with the idea that there were strangers on my social media that were watching my kids and my personal life. It was easy to ignore this nagging thought when I compared how common it is on social media to do this.
After other things further put me off social media, which if you're interested, I'll attach a video below where I go through those reasons, I began to explore this thought:
We are the first generation of parents that are sharing our children's childhood this way to this many people.
It grounds me when I consider how we will one day find out the effects this will have on our children when they are older. Will they resent us? Will it impair their understanding of reality or teach them a false view of what's truly valuable in life?
Personally, the only people that know what I looked like as a child are the people that saw my family album with photos my parents had developed at the photo section at a local store. My version of Instagram in high school was going to the mall, paying for a wallet size portrait of myself to hand out to my closest friends. We would have a few pages of our friends' pictures in our folders that we would let each other see during our free time. It was a special feeling to receive a photo, because we knew not everyone had access to one.
I got to grow up with a sense of privacy when it comes to my childhood. It's something that my family and I treasure. It's information that we choose who we share it with and that it's not common knowledge available to strangers. I can walk around this world knowing that my life is as private as my parents kept it and however private I continue to keep it still today.
Our children, though, will not be able to say the same thing. They will grow up with their parents' friends and followers having seen pictures and videos of them and hearing stories of them growing up; pictures, videos and stories that perhaps are embarrassing to them that they would have preferred their parents kept private. When they meet their parents' friends in person, conversations will shift from asking questions to learn information about them to instead already having a lot of information about them and conversations revolving around it.
As an adult, I have a right to share as much about myself on social media as I am comfortable sharing responsibly. However, as a parent, I must remember my actions will impact my children. My children have a right to their privacy, and it's my job as a parent to protect it. The photos I share I can never take away from a stranger's hand. Their childhood's privacy is something that I can safeguard, and leave the decision up to them when they are adults about how much of it they want to share with others.
Although technology has made it possible to connect with our families and loved ones, as well as to create a brand as individuals, we ought to consider the implications and what boundaries would be wise to protect the privacy of the little ones in our life that have no control over what is being shared about them.
(I plan on writing about how we can use social media as a tool rather than being a tool used by social media in the near future.)