Pretty early on in this parenting gig, I realized that I needed to ask my child’s permission to do things. First, it was rhetorical, like, “Can I shower now before you wake up?” (obviously I didn’t expect her to answer at 2.5 weeks old), but then as she grew, I learned to get her approval/give her power for other daily choices. “Want the red shoes or the pink shoes?” Now, I didn’t care either way which shoes she wore, but giving her a CHOICE showed that I respected her decision making skills. This continued with kid 2, then kid 3. “May I have a hug?” My son knows that he can say no, and I won’t make him hug me. His personal space, his choice.
Their online space is similar. We give them the choice to share online or not. Before I post a photo or ridiculous story to social media, I’ll ask them first. Just as I’d ask a friend, I check with my kids. Social media is such a huge part of our daily lives and real-life conversations that they should be involved in the posts as well. When they were younger, I didn’t think too much about it, and just shared with family and friends to keep them updated (Hello, potty training adventures!). But now that they’re older and I have their friends’ parents, teachers and coaches on my friends’ lists, we don’t want them surprised by, “I saw you went hiking this weekend, looked like fun!” Even writing blog posts becomes a balance of how much to share vs how much to keep private. Once its on the internet, its forever.
They’ll ask to flip through my Instagram & Facebook photos, looking back at memories the way they look at the family scrapbooks, and sometimes, if they run across something that they really don’t want online, we’ll change the privacy together or delete it. They hold the veto power. I want them to know they have a choice of their online sharing even before they are responsible for curating it themselves with their own devices. It has led to some great discussions about sharing online, privacy settings and the power that the internet can have.