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Six tips to capturing a childhood respectfully and in moderation.

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  A blog by Lauren brown

Share moments with your child, not with social media.

Thanks to social media, we live in an age of sharing.  Your Facebook feed is filled with announcements showcasing all the big events one faces in the course of their life.  None of these moments are more proud than the birth of a baby.   There is nothing wrong with baby spam but what happens as children grow and begin to understand that they are being broadcast to the world?  Fast forward a couple of years and you will find most children documented artistically through filters and hashtags in so many images, you could make a flip book.  Do I see anything wrong with this? Not really, but it did get me thinking.  What sort of impact does a camera in the face have on growing child?  Are we breeding a new generation of narcissists? Are we putting our children at risk?  How much is too much when posting on Facebook?

The smart phone/ social media era has really only just taken off.  Back in my day (geez, I’m only 28) each photo snapped of me was carefully orchestrated to ensure none of the 29 film slots were wasted.  Even then when the shot taken, that was it.  None of this editing and deleting of 1000 images to find the perfect shot. Whatever was developed got slapped in the album, blurs and all.  These days exposure to being filmed is much more as parents share the lives of their little ones.  I thought about how I would feel if this happened to me.  I imagined myself telling a story to a group of people when suddenly one of them whips out a phone and starts filming me. They aren’t looking at my face, they are looking at their screen.  As I talk, they interrupt and physically move me to a place with better lighting and ask me to pause my story while they set up a nice back drop of flowers.   I start my story again, only to have the flash go off in my face and then they ignore me while they review the image.  I would be over their intrusion pretty quickly and I probably wouldn’t continue my story.  How often have you overlooked your child sharing a moment with you, to share the moment with social media?

Obviously I’m not suggesting that you cease capturing their childhood.  I’m simply trying to start the discussion around being mindful of a child’s right to privacy and our undivided attention.  As a nanny it’s my job to document children digitally through photos. There is nothing more beautiful than revisiting and sharing these adorable moments especially with Mum and Dad after a long day at work.  So let’s talk about good strategies to use when it comes to capturing the moment and how you can do it respectfully, regardless of age.

Ask permission.

Be sure to ask a child if you can take a photo/ video and if they say no, don’t.  If a child is too young to verbalise their objection, read their body language.  Are they turning away, stopping what they are doing or moving the camera out of their face? I’m guessing they don’t want a photo shoot at this point in time.

Look at them, not the screen when you are filming.

It’s bad manners!  Practice getting the angle just right and interact with your child through smiling and eye contact as you film.  They will more natural and feel less pressure to “perform”.

Pick your moments.

Have you just spent the past 30 minutes capturing nearly 50 images of Mary-Lou eating her Vegemite on toast?  All you want is a messy smile to put on Facebook and say, “Good-morning everyone!  Mary-Lou is a happy little vegemite today!”, but is it worth it?  Save the photo shoots for the milestones.  Your shots will be more candid and I can guarantee you Facebook “like” average will increase – if that’s what you’re into.

Keep a photo album or email account.

By making an effort to print and keep your photos you will find your desire to post publicly will die down.  If an album is too much effort, make an email account for your child/ family and send any special moments privately.

Don’t poke fun.

Kids can be very funny and it’s easy to laugh at their expense but let us laugh with them, not at them. Children can pick up the vibe of your intentions behind the camera and this can have a devastating impact on their confidence.

Encourage children to get behind the lens.

It’s beautiful to see what comes out of the lens from the eyes of a child.  What would your child want to look back on? Lego creations, dance routines, friendships, awards, new skills?  If you child is stoked with something, ask if they want to take a photo.  It helps the child understand the beauty of capturing a moment and they will understand why you like capturing them so often. I once gave the camera over to my kindy class and asked them to take shots of anything they wanted.  The shots that came back ranged from friendship hugs with the faces cut out, to a close up of a blurry leaf but they were some of the greatest photos I’ve ever seen.

These aren’t rules to live by, just guidelines to keep in mind.  Even I’m guilty of all of the above and I’m only an Aunt.  Just be aware of the impact you can have on your child’s development.  Make the digital documenting about celebrating children properly, in moderation. 

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