In case you haven’t noticed, when it comes to this parenting thing, there is no handbook. Fortunately, for most common baby issues, we can rely on the past wisdom of other mamas who have “been there done that” to help us through. But, there is one issue where we are on our own: navigating the waters of the new social media. We’re the first generation to be having babies and raising children in a social networking-driven world. While we don’t claim to have all the answers — we’re in the boat figuring it out alongside you — there are a few simple guidelines that will help make your online experience safe and fun for you and your offspring.

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Photo: Sarah PENANT via Flickr

Do: Think It Through

Once a tiny, over-the-top adorable human turns you into a mama, it’s easy and natural to have your digital life overtaken by this sweet human. After all, social media is for sharing what is important to you and what you love. But, before you post that first photo, sit down and have a serious convo with your partner about creating an online presence for your child. Whether you should share the personal details and image of another human being’s life — even one you created — without their consent is a question worth considering. Going against the grain to protect your child’s privacy may confuse some of your online followers for now, but your child may thank you later.

Do: Put Your Profiles on Lockdown

Set your profiles to “private” and make sure photos are not shareable to help ensure they will only be seen by the friends and family that you choose. Also, to avoid alerting potential predators of your child’s location, turn your “location services” to “off” on your phone for photo-posting apps, and set the “check-in” feature on Facebook to “off.”

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Photo: John Drake via Flickr

Do: Keep It Censored

There’s no denying that a baby booty is one of the cutest things in the world, and no doubt you’ll snap a picture or two of his bare bottom along the way (if only to poster them in their high school years). But if there’s one thing all parents agree on when it comes to our digital lives: children’s photos with nudity are always no-no.

Don’t: Post Your Child’s Full Birth Information

Sounds obvious, but when you create that birth announcement on Instagram to share your baby bundle with the world, keep the info to a minimum. Never post a child’s birth date, weight, height and full name. Identity thieves are increasingly targeting babies and young children and establishing fake IDs in their name.

Do: Share Your Wishes

Talk to family and friends about your social media wishes regarding your baby in advance. Then, be vigilant. You can’t control anyone else’s privacy settings, so any photo another user may post could end up in the wrong hands. And if you find out a photo of your kid does end up on another user’s account? Don’t be afraid to speak up and ask the poster to remove the image.

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Photo: David Salafia via Flickr

Do: Stay Positive

Fact: when it comes to our online lives, we all want to put our best face forward. If you choose to present your kids to the digital world, give them the same courtesy of always showing them in a positive light. For now, the only unappealing thing your baby may do is drool, but it won’t be long before they’ll have embarrassing moments and temper tantrums you may be tempted to share. Before you post, ask yourself if you would want someone to share similar information about you. If the answer is “no,” don’t click “post.”

Don’t: Post Only About Baby

Remember, your friends and family want to know about you, not just your (adorable!) spawn. Everyone has a different criteria for what it means to “over-share” so focus less on counting how many baby smiles you post up and more on highlighting other aspects of your life that bring you joy or inspire you.

What is your personal number one rule for sharing your baby’s photos online? Tell us in a comment.

–Suzanna Palmer