Parents unthinking use of social media

(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at:, or follow me on Twitter.

Parents who embarrass their kids is a phenomena as old as time, but doing so on social media means a larger audience, and the possibility the incidents will remain public forever. Parents should really think twice about this.

There, for anyone to see on her public Facebook account, were all of the embarrassing moments from my childhood: The letter I wrote to the tooth fairy when I was five years old, pictures of me crying when I was a toddler, and even vacation pictures of me when I was 12 and 13 that I had no knowledge of. It seemed that my entire life was documented on her Facebook account, and for 13 years, I had no idea.

I could understand why my mother would post these things; to our extended family and her friends they were cute, funny moments. But to me they were mortifying. Scrolling through my sister’s tweets, I saw what my sister had been laughing about. She would frequently quote me and the random things I would say, it seemed anything I had ever said to her that she thought was funny was fair game. Things I had no idea she was posting online.

I had just turned 13, and I thought I was just beginning my public online life, when in fact there were hundreds of pictures and stories of me that, would live on the internet forever, whether I wanted it to be or not, and I didn’t have control over it. I was furious; I felt betrayed and lied to.

I gave myself time to calm down and simply told my mother and my older sister who had done this, “Don’t do this anymore without my permission,” and ever since then they haven’t posted about me online, without my permission. I confessed that I felt like my privacy was violated, because I felt like they had no right to take pictures of me or quote me on their Facebook and Twitter accounts without my permission.

They were surprised when they heard how I felt, genuinely surprised. They didn’t know I would get so upset over it, because their intentions weren’t to embarrass me, but to keep a log and document what their little sister/youngest daughter was doing in her early childhood and young teenage years.

Teens get a lot of warnings that we aren’t mature enough to understand that everything we post online is permanent, but parents should also reflect about their use of social media and how it could potentially impact their children’s lives as we become young adults.

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