Social media provides many opportunities to be recognized, and few posts garner as much attention for the average person as updates on their children. While the occasional post is fine, documenting a child’s life online can have long-lasting negative affects.
What goes on the internet stays on the internet, and the cute picture of little Johnny in the bathtub today could be embarrassing for him later in life. Family vlogging channels that document their children’s tantrums and shenanigans to an audience of thousands are providing prime content for bullies to target their children with, especially with clickbait titles like “EWWW!!! Toddler pees AND poops on floor!” attached to channel’s with the family’s last name to make their discovery easy. These embarrassing moments are meant to be laughed at during family gatherings, not displayed for the entire world and job recruiters to see.
As typical with the internet, online posts and videos can garner unjust hate. These “haters'' are hard for adults to handle, let alone impressionable children discovering comments on their parents posts calling them stupid or ugly. The only thing worse would be parents reading these cruel comments aloud in front of their young children--as one family did with their video “YOU MADE THEM CRY!! - Reading Mean Comments.”
The kids may be laughing with their parents at the bad grammar of a comment saying “I fricken hate you’re stupid ugly famous … kids who think they can sing” or “tell your daughter to stop singing it’s stupid,” but that young child who loves to sing now knows that people think her singing is bad. When a child is bullied in school, their parents telling them that the bullies were wrong doesn't magically invalidate the criticism. Negative feedback stays with children, and exposing them to needlessly cruel criticism by either showing it to them directly or allowing posts to be a gateway for mean comments can hurt their mental health and future aspirations.
Even if you ask a child for “permission” to post a photo, children often lack the ability to know what is best for them. Kids cannot consent and don’t realize the long-term ramifications an embarrassing picture or video could cause them in the future. Children look up to parents as their guardians, and if a parent asks to post a picture, the child may not want to disagree and disappoint the parent, or may assume the parent knows best and agree.
There’s nothing wrong with showing off your child online, but moderation is key. A parent is a child’s guardian meant to protect them. As easily accessible as the internet is now, think about how those bathtub photos of little Johnny will affect him when he interviews for a job in twenty years instead of how many likes you’ll get on Facebook today.
Charlene Pepiot is a junior studying English at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Want to talk more about it? Let Charlene know by emailing her @firstname.lastname@example.org.