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The Struggle To Keep My Daughter from Being Overexposed

Photograph by Getty Images/Blend Images RM

I feel squeamish about sharing too much of my daughter's life on social media. So much so that my mother's friends started following my husband on Facebook instead. After all, he photographs and videos every damn moment of her life and then, a moment later, shares it online. No new word goes uncatalogued. No booty shake or shoulder shimmy goes un-uploaded.

I know. Who am I to complain? I blog about motherhood on the regular. Not only that, but I regularly overshare about my own life online. Thousands of people across the world know about my sex life, my antidepressants, all of my ugly neuroses. In fact, I consider it my life's purpose to be blatantly honest about my life, as a means of connecting with others over difficult topics.

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But I chose that path for myself. And I try to always reveal more about myself than I do about anyone else. Besides, who am I to make that choice for someone else?

A recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle shows that kids are less than thrilled with their parents sharing so much of their lives online. Researchers surveyed 249 parent-child pairs across the United States in order to understand the various types of technology rules families have established, in addition to how effective those rules are perceived to be.

In the end, it was found that both children and their parents agree that parents need to tear themselves away from their screens. Children also expressed frustration over their parents' practice of posting about them online.

I know these attempts to create boundaries will only become more difficult as she gets older. Someday, she'll be able to tell me "no more!"

"Child participants reported that they find this content embarrassing and feel frustrated that parents publicly contribute to their online presence without permission," write the authors of this paper. "Our results suggest that children's need to control their online image is undermined by the common parent practice of sharing information about children online."

It's something I knew intuitively. The knowledge was there inside me that, one day, there would be a reckoning.

And so I laid the smack down when my husband posted a video of Em's very first tubby time. "No more nudity!" I said.

"Do you think she's going to be happy this exists?" I asked him when he showed me the video he'd posted of her crying in frustration because she couldn't maintain her balance when she was still learning to sit up on her own.

"This poor girl!" I exclaimed when he recorded her wandering around the first floor using packing material as an extra-long shawl.

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I myself had to use every ounce of restraint inside me in order to resist posting a photo of her sitting in an empty litter box. I also kept to myself the butt-first photo of her in "downward dog."

I know these attempts to create boundaries will only become more difficult as she gets older. Someday, she'll be able to tell me "no more!" Someday, I will no longer be able to exploit my daughter for blogging dollars.

Someday, we'll both be telling each other "no more" as the allure of smartphones and tablets and TV time grows ever more overwhelming to her.

And since I want her to listen to me, I suppose it's only fair I listen to her, too.

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