ASK FIRST, POST LATER: If you don’t know how a parent feels about having photos of their kids posted on Facebook, Instagram or elsewhere, ask before uploading a photo and before you tag the parents in a photo. Actually, it’s not a bad idea to ask everyone you post a photo of if they’re cool with it, especially if the snaps were taken at a party, swimming pool or any other less buttoned-up situation.
LIMIT AUDIENCES: Facebook’s privacy settings are complex, but they also offer granular settings that let you pick who can see your updates. One way to do this: Create a “secret” group and add the members you want. The problem here is that anyone in the group can add new members to the group.
Another way to limit the audience of each post you share is to click on the right tab under your update, which may currently say “friends” or “public.” Click on “custom” and choose which of your Facebook friends you want to share with and which ones you’d like to exclude. It’s simpler on Instagram, where you can either lock your account or set it to public.
TALK TO YOUR KIDS: Opinions on the age at which parents should start talking to their kids about Internet and social media use vary. Some parents start as soon as their child is old enough to use a smartphone, which can be as early as 2 or 3 years. Amy Heinz, who blogs about her kids, often talks to her 8-year-old about posts she writes about him, but says her younger children, who are 5 and 3, know about the blog but “don’t have a concept” of what it means exactly. Caroline Knorr, parenting editor at the nonprofit Common Sense Media, waited until her son was 15 before posting a photo of him on Facebook – and asked his permission first.
GO THE OLD-FASHIONED ROUTE: Some parents opt for emailing or texting photos to one person or to a small group rather than sharing them more widely on social media. Online storage services such as Google Drive and Dropbox also let you distribute photos privately, as do photo-sharing sites such as Flickr. Of course, there’s always the truly old-fashioned snail mail method, if you can still find a place to print snapshots.