Parenting during the Social media era: Reflections

Parenting during the Social media era: Reflections

Last week I started working on a blog post, on chores for kids and why we need them. I’d just found the images for the post and as I settled down to write the piece, my husband signalled that I should check my e-mail. Raising an eyebrow, I complied and as I clicked on the new mail icon, my heart leaped in joy.

There, in a beautiful folder on our private, shared account was a photo album of Gy. It contained photos of my daughter captured over the last 10 years! Right from the moment she was born till earlier this year, when I captured a recent image of her, there they all were.

Why this mattered so much was very simple. About 3 years ago, almost all our images saved on an external hard drive were lost. And the realisation was brutal! We didn’t have backups (at least, that’s what we believed) and to lose such precious memories seemed like a terrible loss.

So, I contented myself with flipping through albums on Flickr where I’d uploaded a few early snaps and of course, the more recent ones which take up space on my phone.

So, when we stumbled upon these on a forgotten folder on another laptop, they were like manna from heaven! I now had all these gorgeous memories of her smile after she lost her first tooth, her grin as she tried on my husband’s shoes, her frown as I told her she couldn’t stay back with her aunt one night, her pout as she refused to sing a song I’d requested- cherished, beautiful moments came tumbling out of the digital folder.

Parenting during the social media era

As a mom blogger, one of the things I find both challenging and encouraging is parenting during the social media era. Let me go over what that means in various situations.

4 Things I've learnt about #parenting in the social media age Click to Tweet

Sharing my struggles online

That’s one of the best things that happened to me via social media. I could share my challenges as a parent who yelled a lot, a mom who disliked this fact and wanted to change it. My story about my depression and bipolar disorder touched a chord as did the one I wrote about my chemical pregnancy.

I found empathy from fellow parents and compassion from fellow writers. Moms nodded along in solidarity when I wrote my last post on how it feels to be an exhausted mother. That was so very encouraging.

BUT . . .

This also opened me up to a lot of criticism. I had to face the disapproval of parents who said, ‘Well, of course you don’t yell at a kid.’ Or others who said, ‘I never yelled at my child and that’s why I have the  best relationship with him/her even today.’ Then there were  those who scoffed at the fact about the ‘chemical pregnancy‘; for them, it wasn’t a loss in the true sense.

So, as time went by, I became more reserved in what I spoke about, especially as a parent. Troubles & worries became things to keep under wraps, to be spoken about only with close friends, online or offline, away from the critique of social media users. In short, sharing became something selective and careful; perhaps that too is for the best.

Sharing pictures of my child

As a new blogger, I was all excited about sharing pictures of my daughter, either here on the blog or on social media platforms like Facebook. Back when I began blogging in 2007, I didn’t even have a very active Facebook account, actually. But I used to share pictures via e-mail and occasionally upload videos and pictures on Facebook, to share with friends and family overseas.

It was only in mid 2013 that I began to explore social media as a way to grow the visibility of my blog. With it, came a host of privacy concerns plus the eternal possibility of a profile getting hacked. I read up extensively on cyber safety and came to the conclusion that I shouldn’t share pictures of my daughter on social media anymore, at least none that would show her face or any identifying features.

I’ve written about the need to reduce sharing pictures of our kids on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. I’ve even gone so far as to message a few moms I know to tell them about the dangers posed by hackers and pedophiles.

The fact is none of our accounts are 100% secure.  Anyone’s profile can be accessed by clever hackers. Some parents agree while most others scoff at the idea. So, I’ve now let go and do what’s right for me. As a parent blogger, I owe a responsibility to my child to let her make her own digital footprint when the time is right. Till that time, specifics about her will be shared only on closed family forums and private groups off social media.

Making social media connections

A big part of parenting today is the fact that we have our ‘village’ online. While earlier, you’d call your mom or a trusted elder for advice on everything from nappies to breastfeeding, today’s mom has her community of fellow mums to help in a time of dire need. Social media ensures that at any point of time you have someone, somewhere  who is available at the click of a button, to answer your queries.

The down side to this is the fact that you can lay yourself open to judgment. Criticism comes easily to people, particularly when it comes to parenting. Heck, there are so many people who dislike the term ‘mom bloggers’ or what they stand for. While that would perturb me and irk me at times, I’ve learnt to finally deal with it in two ways: Join only limited Facebook support groups and choose whom to follow on social media.

Learning not to over-share

This is probably the biggest challenge when it comes to parenting today. Who is to judge how much is too much when it comes to our kids, our families and even ourselves on social media?

Despite everything you do, there will still be those who look askance at the amount of information you put out there. A simple 2-step thumb rule that I follow is this:

  • Would I feel comfortable if this update was about me instead of my child?
  • Am I sure that my child won’t mind if I share this about him/her?

If the answer to both those questions is ‘Yes’, then go ahead. If your child is old enough to understand what is being written about, ask the child. I did just that before I wrote the post on having the puberty talk with your tween. I showed her the draft and explained that this would be published on the blog. She read it through and acknowledged that she was fine with it.

As time goes by, I know that she too will be introduced to this world of social media and everything in it- the good, the bad and the downright ugly. I also know that as much as I find parenting in this era challenging, it’s also a great blessing to be a mother today in an age where we are open to ideas, opinions and suggestions from many other people like ourselves.

*Featured image courtesy: Shutterstock

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15 thoughts on “Parenting during the Social media era: Reflections

  1. This resonates with me. I too feel the urge to share the milestones of parenting but quickly feel discouraged- Will it be safe? Will people understand this? Will people laugh at me? I end up doing nothing most of the times but only self-talk. Being a Mom blogger, I must say, is not easy and you are acing it.
    upasna recently posted Minimalism is not Black and WhiteMy Profile

    1. Thank you, Upasna. I went through a lot of self-doubt and some amount of the ‘left out’ syndrome too when I stopped sharing pictures on social media. But, with time, I overcame it and am happy with what I do today.

    1. Thanks Vishal! I just hope more parents on social media, bloggers or otherwise, begin to realise the enormity of the situation and act accordingly. It’s in their best interests as well as that of the child, of course.

  2. Would you believe that I have a post in my drafts about becoming a mother in the age of social media?
    Whatever you wrote resonates in many ways and some of the things I think I’ll learn more as the years go by.
    For example sharing pics of M, I’m always in two minds about it. One thing’s for sure, parenting is this age is certainly not any easier with social media being a big part of our lives. While there are the advantages to it but the disadvantages are also far too many. I struggle to find a balance on some days and M is just 1.5 yrs old. Wonder what will happen later!
    Nabanita Dhar recently posted #MommyTalks | Fathers & DaughtersMy Profile

    1. You should write that post, Naba 🙂 I’m always keen to hear other parents’ points of view, even if they are different from mine. It’s illuminating. You’re so right about the disadvantages of social media. For a long time, I clung to the numbers- of likes, retweets, favourites- until I quietly let go and focused on doing what I love: Blog/write. And once I did that, everything else just fell into place. I still have doubts on some days, but more or less I am comfy where I am.

  3. Writing on parenting is getting tougher now because like you said I have to stop to think how the kids would react to it. They don’t read my blog yet so I have to be the judge of it. I like your idea of checking whether I would be comfortable with it had I been in their place. However since they are in their tweens, they are far more touchy than I am, so I try to keep to safe topics these days. Once I shared a memory on Facebook, a picture of H from when he was about 3, and my Goodness how upset he was! They hate their friends seeing their baby pictures.
    Obsessivemom recently posted Random acts of kindnessMy Profile

    1. You’re so right! What we consider ‘cute’ can be quite different for a kid. They are, after all, tiny human beings with strong opinions after all. I’m guessing that’s even more so for H, given what I know about him. And that’s another scary thing, no? How much we know about other people’s kids whom we have hardly seen or even met!

  4. I am with you on all the situations and approaches that you’ve shared. I love the support that we get from other parents and bloggers. I have also had doubts about over-sharing and also about sharing their pictures. At the end of the day, we do what is right for us. Since both my kids read my blog, I get their feedback instantly. Also, if I am sharing something about them, I show them in advance and take their opinion. I think, that is the responsible thing to do because it is after all their life that we are sharing. Being a parenting blogger has its pros and cons and each of us tries to maximise our pros.
    Rachna recently posted A Bit More About Me (Anything But Books)My Profile

    1. So glad this touched a similar chord with you, Rachna 🙂 I am just hoping that we are doing the right thing by them. It’s a diary, after all, but still a public diary.

  5. Your stories are real, honest and inspiring , so don’t hold back Shailaja no matter what others say. But I agree, oversharing can be problematic in this age. The online world can easily become a dangerous place for kids, so myself don’t support sharing of one’s kid’s photos. And you are such an awesome mom, to seek approval before publishing the post.
    Rajlakshmi recently posted 7 Wanderlust postcardsMy Profile

    1. Thanks, Raj 🙂 Not sure about awesome, I am pretty sure Gy will disagree with you 😉

      But I do what I can to be safe. Better that than sorry. I don’t want things to become critical and patch it later. Best is to be cautious now.

  6. I am possibly too naive (or thankfully not exposed to negative effects yet) but I have found social media (when it comes to parenting) to be a wonderful thing.

    Of-course this is possibly because I do almost all of what you have mentioned. I rarely share D’s pics online. I have even taken down all the earlier baby pics I had uploaded.

    Since I do not write a parenting focused blog, there is no question of over-sharing. And possibly that’s why I haven’t faced any judgement as well.

    So I tend to focus on the positive, which is connecting with people I would have never ever been able to connect, and it’s been exactly the kind of virtual village I needed to raise my kid. Especially because that village is non-existent here in Amreeka. 🙂
    Shantala recently posted Reading Goals 2017 – Mid-Year Update | #ChattyBlogs July LinkyMy Profile

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