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Monday, February 6, 2023

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Fakebooking: Exercising Care on Social Media

fakebooking
Parenting sure has changed in the wake of social media. These days, some moms and dads don’t hesitate sharing everything about their children’s lives on sites like Facebook and Instagram — from first ultrasounds to first steps to first times on the potty and everything in between. But just how much is too much to share about our kids and how does putting it all out there on the Internet affect them?

Lisa Mendoza of Fredericksburg, the mother of an 8-year-old daughter, admits she used to post a lot on Facebook about her child’s milestones, but is more selective now.

Some parents constantly post updates about their children and their achievements in an effort to build themselves up, a trend dubbed “fakebooking.”

“She does know that I post about her, but not always what,” Mendoza said. “I generally share achievements, questions I thought were provoking, conversations that made me laugh, or activities we did together. I would never post something I wouldn’t want the world to know. Even though my profile is set to private, I know things are never truly private.”

Dr. Holly Schiffrin agrees. Schiffrin is an associate professor of psychology at the University of Mary Washington and co-author of the book Balancing the Big Stuff: Finding Happiness in Work, Family and Life, which touches upon how social media affects people and relationships.

“I think the immediate issue with posting pictures of your children on social media is a safety issue,” Dr. Schiffrin says. “If you are posting information that identifies where your children are, where they go to school, where they could be tracked to by someone, that is potentially dangerous.”

Some parents constantly post updates about their children and their achievements in an effort to build themselves up, a trend dubbed “fakebooking.”

“A longer term issue is why parents are posting these pictures,” Dr. Schiffrin pondered. “Does it go beyond wanting to keep Grandma in the loop? Is it more about making yourself look good to the world? There definitely is research on parents who are more ‘ego-involved.’ They tend to be more controlling of their children and how they do things — because they think it reflects on the worth of the parent — which results in children who are less capable of working independently and perform at lower levels than children whose mothers were less controlling.”

We’ve all read these types of posts, but Mendoza said to do your best to ignore them.

“I think there’s always going to be some form of it,” Mendoza said. “I try my best to be real, to show all sides of the spectrum, but I also know the power of Facebook as a medium for social change and try to be more positive than negative.”
And, like Mendoza, Schiffrin also suggested to be selective with what you post.

“The main thing that comes to mind as inappropriate to me is anything that would shame or embarrass your children,” she said. “If you wouldn’t post it about yourself, or your child wouldn’t want everyone to know the information, then it shouldn’t be on social media.”

Added Mendoza: “There’s a difference between shaming and having a light sense of humor about something. Don’t lose sight that your child and your family are still human with feelings and opinions. Respect them. And don’t get lost trying to find the life you think everyone has.”

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