As a proud new grandmother and an avid photographer, I took great joy chronicling my grandson’s first year of life. Naturally, I wanted to share that feeling with my friends and family.
This put me in a dilemma: how much should I share on Facebook? Is it appropriate to share at all?
While there are no easy answers, and every family is different, the following two golden rules helped me navigate the dangerous waters of online etiquette.
Rule #1: Always ask for permission first
It’s hard not to take some “ownership” of the new family baby, especially if they’re the first of a new generation. As such, it can be easy to forget the primary rule: this should always be the parents’ decision.
Even if they photograph and share their child’s every waking moment, this is no substitute for asking; they may prefer to limit photos to a very specific audience.
If possible, be sure to involve both parents in the decision, as they may not be on the same page. My daughter was delighted to see every single photo of her son on Facebook. Her husband, on the other hand, was understandably concerned. In the year since, their positions have slowly evened out.
Stay conscious of their concerns and respect their wishes, however changing or inconsistent they might be. Today’s parents are among the first to deal with social media, and the rules are still being hashed out; it can be hard to find a balance protectiveness and pride. Remember: as with all other parents throughout history, they’re figuring this out as they go along!
Rule #2: Consider the long-term impact
You won’t just need to consider things from the parents’ point of view; you may also need to imagine your grandchild’s future.
No longer are baby photos hidden in a dusty album, ready to strategically embarrass grandkids as our grandparents embarrassed us.
Speaking to MainStreet, clinical psychologist Barbara Greenberg reminds us that these photos may be freely online well into their adulthood. “What is (the child) going to think of what you posted when they are 13 or 14? If you post a picture of them looking chubby or picking their nose, it could set them up for bullying”.
She also warns of the dangers of “branding” children at an early age. “”You may be raising someone who as an adult says, ‘Oh, I’m shy because I’ve always been shy,’ because you put that label on them from birth”.
When choosing which photos to share, this advice was incredibly helpful in sorting the “yes” pile from the “no”.
Finding a happy medium
In my case, without a definitive “yes” or “no”, I found the safest solution: sending the shortlisted collection of photos directly to the parents. Not only was the politeness noted; it was also appreciated as a wonderful gift – far more so than if they had been shared via Facebook.
The parents have since selectively chosen their favourites to share online.
It’s not always easy – part of me still yearns to hold up my beautiful grandson for the world to see – but I can rest far easier knowing the final word is with those most entitled to it.
Are you comfortable sharing photos of your grandchildren on Facebook? What is and isn’t appropriate to share?