My younger daughter wanted to tell me something yesterday. She started her sentence with "Don't put this on your blog or anything..."
I had to smile. Because I blog, my mind often runs on two tracks -- a mom track and a blog track. When my kids do or say something, my blogger brain will often jump up and think, "This would make a great blog post." However, the older my girls get, the more careful I need to be about what I post in this space.
You see, my girls didn't ask to be the daughters of a blogger. They didn't ask to have their every moment and every emotion aired to the Internet public. They just ended up with a mom with a blog. Whenever my daughters ask me not to put something on the blog, I don't. If I'm going to share something really personal, I ask them before I post it. I try to keep things fairly general in this space, and I don't use my girls' names -- all in an effort to respect their privacy.
As I smiled at my daughter's words yesterday, knowing that very few of her friends ever have to utter those words, I was reminded that those guidelines for respecting my kids' privacy need to apply outside my blog, too. They need to apply to my Facebook page, my Twitter account, my Pinterest board, and even to my conversation.
We live in a world of oversharing. Social media has made it possible for us to share every thought, every meal, every moment of our lives with the rest of the world. We talk and talk to our kids about the importance of being circumspect in what they share on the Internet. We frame it in terms of safety and in terms of not posting things they don't want following them around for the rest of their lives. Yet, too often, we, as their parents, break those very rules.
We post our kids' embarrassing moments. We post their whereabouts. We post our frustrations with them. Don't get me wrong. Sharing a cute story or a proud moment is fine. Sharing a mortifying moment is not.
Too often, I read a Facebook post about a child, and I wonder if the child knows that mom or dad posted that embarrassing moment. I wonder how that child will feel about his friends' parents reading what to him is a mortifying moment and perhaps sharing that with his friend. I wonder if the parent really thought about how it would make her child feel if he read it.
I've come to the conclusion that we need to apply Ephesians 4:29 to our social media words as well as to the words that come out of our mouths: "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." I'm not saying that sharing about your kids on social media sites is wrong, but I think the standard needs to be whether it would build our kids up and benefit them if they or their friends read it.
When we overshare about our kids on social media, when we immortalize their embarrassing moments, their struggles, and our own frustrations with them on the Internet, we create the possibility of driving a wedge between us and our kids. We let social media become a tool of destruction in our own homes.
My suggestions is that we follow this simple rule: Only post things on social media about your kids that you would say in front of your kids and their friends. If it would embarrass or hurt your child to say it in front of her and her friends, keep it off social media. If you're looking for advice on a particularly tough or sensitive subject, ask a friend in person. Don't immortalize it on Facebook.
In this completely connected society, we need to take a good look at how we're using social media and how it's affecting our kids. We need to use it as a tool to build our kids up, not as one to tear them down. We need to guard the words that flow out of our fingertips just as much as we need to guard the ones that come out of our mouths.