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Generation social: Sharing 'on behalf of' your kids

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Zack Wittman/MLive.com/AP

(Read caption) Photo sharing: Sharing silly photos of kids accounts can be fun, but parents should be aware that some photos might prove to be sources of embarrassment when kids get older.

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I recently met my friend’s daughter for the first time in person. I already knew what she looked like and snippets of her personality through her parents’ posts on Facebook. I have essentially been her friend on Facebook for years, but it will be another decade before she has her own profile.

Similarly, my college buddies keep me posted on their daughter’s adventures via Instagram, posting photos of her on the trail, on a bike, and outside in Montana living the life of a mountain girl. Or, at least I assume she is a mountain girl because these are the only pictures I have ever really seen of her. I haven’t made it out to Montana since she was born.

And don’t get me started on the absolutely adorable pudge on my honorary nephew in New York. At six-months-old he is already slated to be my son’s best friend, as soon as we find time for a trip to the city.

I know more about my friends' children through social media posts than real-life encounters. Children today are part of the first truly social generation whose lives will be documented from birth to adulthood on social media sites. So, what is my son like to those who only know him online?

As adults, we put our best selves online (or a tightly managed, pleasantly self-deprecating version of our flawed selves). Like the “casual” picture of me sitting on the porch with my son that was taken and re-taken four different times by my husband before I accepted that it looked ready for mass consumption. Do we edit the information we share about our kids in the same way? 

I think we have to behave online as if we are posting on behalf of our kids, not about our kids. It’s already hard enough for many folks to be friends with their parents on social media, as Mashable points out in this list. Now fast forward a decade or so and think about how your kid will feel seeing a post about his failed attempt at potty training. I want my son to appreciate his online profile before he takes it over. 

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