Sunday, 6 November 2016

To post or not to post?

Our daughter is immensely proud of her newest offspring. And it has to be admitted that, even though we might be a tiny bit biased, she is a very beautiful baby. Everyone agrees. And lot of friends from far and wide get the chance to admire her as the pictures pop up on Facebook. The latest is a video of the clever child reaching out and grabbing a ring hanging from her "baby gym". Yes, that's right, a baby gym. It's a wooden structure that straddles the child as she wriggles about on the rug; brightly coloured shapes dangle to encourage her to reach out and grab. She is clearly very good at baby gymnastics.

My daughter is not the only mummy showing off her baby in this way. Quite a large number of my ex-students have reached the age where they are producing offspring. They too post pictures showing off how delightful their sprog is. It's all very nice and tasteful. Nothing shocking. No nudity!

Then I came across an article about the rights and wrongs of posting pics of your children on Facebook. Here's the link. And I can quite understand that we need to be circumspect about what pictures we put out there. Cute and funny at five can be major-league embarrassing at fifteen.

I was struck by the story of the child whose mother "outed" his loneliness. She put an appeal out on Facebook for parents of his school companions to send him cards for his birthday and it went viral, as these things sometimes do. Now he is "big in Brazil". He has received cards and presents from all over the world and from famous folk. His latest birthday party, his 12th birthday I think, was an immense affair.

But I am afraid I am just a little sceptical. Does getting fancy presents from Facebook friends in the Netherlands make him any less lonely in his real life? What do his school companions make of it? Will he find all this really embarrassing when he is 18?

Parents have always taken photos of their children. And everyone's baby is the most beautiful in the world. We have albums full of photos of our two. The problem now is that the current crop of children are truly the children of the social media age. The pictures are not mouldering in an album to be brought out only at family occasions. Will they always want their baby pictures and videos of their toddler birthday parties to be available to the masses?

Or is it all as harmless as my putting photos of food out there?

It's certainly a good deal better than the posts that say, "Done the washing!" and "Off to bed now".

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