We have all seen them, the parents who have their children plastered all over their social media. Their children are the centre of attention when you go on their Facebook or Instagram pages. I am guilty of this. I even had to create a different social media platform due to my obsession with her. Sometimes, the pictures we post are of the little cute outfits they wore or the school award they just won. Then a lot of other times we are posting about the hilarious stuff that they did, that, if they had a choice, would not want to be posted on social media.
Generation Z babies have formed a very strong opinion about being on their parent’s social media. Gen Z babies are those born from the mid-90s to mid-2000s.
These children are born in the age of social media, and it is all they know. Their parents are still getting excited about different platforms. Some Baby Boomers are still discovering Facebook, and as they do, discover that you can create lifelong online albums of your grand kid’s extremely embarrassing moments.
This alone forms a digital footprint of our kids, and anyone anywhere can access their pictures.
You know those embarrassing family photos your mom would take out to show to your girlfriend or boyfriend? Now, your friends can access these albums at a flick of a finger. Gen Z kids do not want to have to manage this crisis. They want to have a say in how they are being presented on social media.
They want to be in control of their digital footprint.
The harsh truth is that what the parents find cute, is most probably not the same in the eyes of a Gen Z kid. Children don’t want to go to school on Monday and be laughed at about the outfit they wore to church on Sunday which was ‘not cool’.
Again I say, parenting has evolved. Now, parents can’t just post what they want because the child is theirs, the phone is theirs, and they are most probably paying for the internet connectivity. Now, families engage in open and honest conversations about what kids like or don’t like. As parents, we have grown to be more conscious about the psychological and social effects our behaviours have on our little ones.
Does this mean parents need to wait for a stamp of approval first before posting a picture? Some parents would ask “in whose house?”.
Right now, with a two-year-old, I am going to have the time of my life posting about how she decided to climb into the bathroom sink to chill (she really did). I am going to do this now because I know there will be a time where she would be very passionate about what I put up.
So when does this exactly change?
Early adolescence strikes between the ages of 10 and 13. It could be earlier for some kids. This is the time parents need to start preparing for. From this age, there will be more and more conversations about how their online presence looks like, and how mom is messing It up for them.
A study by PLOS one indicates that kids between ages 18-24 consent to the stereotype of self-obsession and narcissism. This age group is also called the ‘emerging adults’ group. This includes Generation Z and Millennials. They do, however, react negatively to these societal labels.
After all, this is the generation of selfie and snapchat kids that post perfectly filtered phots every day. If I was this person, I would also be very wary of what my parents post.
And listen, it is possible to raise children that aren’t vanity slaves. This does not mean they will celebrate you putting out embarrassing footage of them singing in the shower though. It also does not mean your Gen Z baby thrives off filtered content and isn’t authentic. There is nothing wrong with having a say on your social media presence.
So parents, get ready to be challenged but don’t feel undermined when they do. We are living in different times. We did not have to worry about our bums being on a Facebook group to spark a conversation about nappy rash. They do. So we need to be able to negotiate and compromise.
So, good luck!
Karabo Motsiri is a first-time mom, over-sharer, lover of life, chronic napper and married to her best friend. She loves a good party because the dance floor is her happy place. She enjoys good food, good conversations, laughs a little too hard, and cries during every episode of Grey’s Anatomy. She started her blogging journey because she wanted to share all the ups and downs of being a young modern mama in South Africa. Her blog Black Mom Chronicles has been featured on Ayana Magazine & SA Mom Blog. She has enjoyed airtime on Power FM and frequently writes for the parenting section of Saturday Citizen. She also works with MamaMagic on their Product Awards, Milestones Magazine, Heart to Heart blog, and the Baby Expo, which is South Africa’s biggest parenting expo.
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