09/07/2013 10:05 BST | Updated 07/09/2013 06:12 BST

Should We Ask Our kids' Permission Before Posting Online?


Sometimes, as an editor, you get a pitch that is so precisely spot on that it makes the hairs at the back of your neck stand on end. Aside from making a mental note to somehow wax the back of my neck, a recent pitch from one of my writers had me commissioning in seconds. I just knew it would be a doozy.

'Should we ask our children's permission before posting about them on Facebook?' by Heidi Scrimgeour ratcheted to the top of the trending questions within minutes of me posting it.

Because, frankly, the moment the question is asked you realise that you knew the answer all along and that's why you hadn't dared ask the question.

Heidi wrote:

"Like many parents, I regularly post on Facebook about the funny things my kids say or do. They're an endless source of comedy gold and 'Facebooking' the minutiae of motherhood can sometimes feel like all that makes it bearable. But this backfires when friends comment on my posts in the presence of my kids.

"'Did you write about me on Facebook AGAIN?' queries my six-year-old, eyes narrowed in contempt. My children are unimpressed with this habit of mine, and have begun to start conversations with the proviso 'Don't put this on Facebook, but...'"

Yup, mine too. And yours? And yours? And you over there? Well, maybe not everyone.

One of our experts, Magda de Lange, painted it in black, white and blue with a little white 'f':

"I think the way we invade the private lives of others including our children have reached a point where we all need to step back for a moment and re-assess how we live as humans. On the one hand a comment about our children can be innocent enough as part of our daily social lives and conversations.

"On the other hand what we say in cyberspace does not stay a mere comment but actually becomes a documentation of the live of another person. How comfortable are we with this?"

Not very, as it turns out. Even those of us who are guilty of it know it's wrong.

Another member, Kirstin C, added:

"My seven-year-old was devastated when I posted a story about her on Facebook last year.

She begged me to remove it and also constantly asks 'are you putting that on Facebook?' It made me realise that I was totally invading her privacy and vowed not to do it again."

My middle son is HILARIOUS. Actually, all three crack me up, but my middle one is probably the least intentionally funny, which always adds to humour, right? He comes out with brilliant spoonerisms, he misunderstands films in the most rib tickling ways and as a very young boy he used to come out with infinitely quotable crackers like "I'm actually attracting ladies with my chest!". But he's not just a clown for my enjoyment - and my friends' enjoyment - he's a whole person. And his funny ways are not crying out for a wider audience, they're a part of him and a part of our family. They're private jokes. At least, that's what we all used to call them.