What grandparents need to know before announcing their grandchild's birth on social media.
In the digital age, the custom of mailing out birth announcements has all but vanished. Now, a baby’s birth is most often announced in a social media post. And new grandparents want to share the good news, too, especially when that baby is the first grandchild!
Before any over-excited grandparents make that announcement on Facebook, you need to remember that posting all the details of a baby’s arrival on social media is different from mailing cards to your friends and family. When someone sends a traditional physical birth announcement, the information goes to their friends. When grandparents share photos with their friends on social media, they are also sharing them with the world.
Any photo posted publicly can end up being used by anyone for anything. Even if you are very careful with your privacy settings, photos posted on social media can still end up being shared more widely than the poster intended. Your enthusiastic cousin may share your post (or take a screen shot and post it on her account)—and suddenly, an extra 1,382 people have the photo. More importantly, they may have details that should be carefully guarded.
What sort of details? Personally identifiable information (PII) is anything that an identity thief or hacker might be able to use for sinister purposes. This includes names, birthdates, birthplace and mother’s maiden name—four things that are easy to find in social media birth announcements. Even with your privacy settings set as securely as possible, nothing that is posted on the internet is truly secure. And if you think there’s no one looking for children’s PII, think again. A million children in the US were victims of identity theft in 2017.
Now that you know what not to include, there is another important thing to consider.
How do the parents feel about grandparents posting on social media?
Have you asked, and are you clear about their wishes? Parent chat boards are full of complaints about grandparents sharing pictures on social media after parents have asked them not to do so. Some parents want no photos or details posted at all. Others want only photos that don’t show their child’s face. Find out how what they want. It’s not worth social media’s dopamine rush to post a picture and damage the relationship with your adult children. Make sure you know, understand and follow the wishes of your grandchild’s parents before posting anything about their child.
When can you announce the birth of your new grandchild?
What’s the first thing excited grandparents-to-be want to do? Even before they start shopping? They want to tell the world that they are about to become a grandparent! Social media makes that easy, but it’s crucial that you wait until the parents give you a green light. This is just the first of many, many instances in which you will need to follow their lead.
Likewise, when the baby is born, wait until the parents have had a chance to post their own announcement. Ask for permission before you jump in and post your happy news, and consider waiting an extra day or two so that the parents can fully enjoy the congratulations they deserve.
To recap: Do’s and Don’ts for Announcing Your First Grandchild
To help grandparents use social media safely, More Than Grand offers a handy tip sheet for protecting your grandchild’s privacy online. You can download 6 Tips for Protecting Your Grandchildren on Social Media here.