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Opinion: ‘Modelling’ our Squamish kids — one picture at a time

When was the last time you spent a day doing something fun with your kids without taking a picture?

Two bundled-up toddlers play in the snow at a local park. Their cheeks are rosy, and they are giddy with the excitement of the white stuff.

It is a picture-perfect moment, and so no surprise when one of the moms comes forward to take a shot with her phone. Seeing her, both boys instinctively stop playing and pose.

It is cute and yet disturbing how quickly they knew how to strike a pose.

Both stay still, flash a toothy smile, and wait for the all-clear to continue playing.

Chances are, those photos ended up on social media soon after.

A 2018 London School of Economics report found that among the 96% of parents who use the internet, at least monthly, 75% share some photos or videos of their children online.

It is ubiquitous, but what is the impact on kids of so much picture-taking?

[Full disclosure, I’m a cellphone-addicted snap-happy parent, too. I was just lucky to raise my boys before cellphones and social media were ever-present, or I would have filled my feeds with their adorable little faces.

By the time this technology was part of everyday life, my boys were teens. Teen boys are violently allergic to mothers taking their photos and rightly demanded I ask permission to post the rare shot I did get.]

Obviously, taking pictures and “sharenting” is not the worst thing parents can do to their kids.

Though I would judgmentally argue, those videos parents post of their littles crying or having a tantrum — or being tricked by their parent — are examples of terrible parenting.

But I digress.

Back to the more lovingly-motivated happy shots; perhaps it is worth parents of littles thinking about what that ever-present camera may be doing to their kids’ development.

According to Joanne Orlando, an Australian expert on children and tech, it changes them and their experiences.

“It really takes away from a child just being in the moment … it’s taking away from the enjoyment and moving into a performance,” she told parenting site Babyology.

“Particularly for kids who don’t like having their photo taken or who don’t want to be interrupted; they have to look a certain way or smile … it complicates all their activities.”

When was the last time you spent a day doing something fun with your kids without taking a picture?

Orlando says always being photographed  — and posted — can also make kids question their main value to the parent.

“There are other things that a child will think that parent values in them apart from just who they are,” she said.

“If they’re expected to look good every day for photos, then how is that going to affect their relationship with you, whether they can actually just be themselves?”

Would you and your kids benefit from truly living in the moment more often, rather than framing it — literally and figuratively?

Something to consider the next time another urge strikes to take a snap.

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