First, I would like to share some statistics on the elephant in the room--the vast majority of children born in the United States today find themselves online from the day they are born. Perhaps earlier, if we count ultrasound photos. Studies show that 92 percent of kids in the United States have an online identity by age 2. On average, parents post nearly 1,000 photos of a child online before the child turns 5. It’s no wonder non-parents can feel they are drowning in “cute” photos of their friends’ children. Why all the posts? According to a 2015 survey by Pew Internet Research, 74% of parents who use social media get support from their friends online. Surgeons appear to be no exception.
Are we “oversharenting”? Oversharing seems to be judged in the eyes of the beholder. A survey by Parents magazine found that 79% of respondents said other parents overshare on social media -- yet only 32% felt that they overshared themselves. Similarly, when asked to judge others, 80% of adults say they’ve seen parents put attempts to get the perfect photo ahead of their child’s enjoyment of an event. While these statistics are striking, I argue it matters more that parents and their children are comfortable with the photos than what others think. For a great post on a parent and child who are both mindful and enthusiastic in their approach to social media, see here.
Rather than worrying about unrealistic dangers, I recommend three questions to ask yourself when posting photos of children.
- What is the purpose of a my post? (For a powerful example of a post with a clear purpose, see here.)
- Am I comfortable with this image/information becoming part of my child’s digital footprint?
- Would my child approve? And do I have their permission? (If consent is age-appropriate.)