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By Trisha Prabhu

“My mom keeps posting pics of me online that are embarrassing. How do I get her to stop?”

Hi there, and welcome back to another week of Ask Trish! I hope you’re all well and having a wonderful February. 

Thank you so much to this week’s question-er for the fantastic and #relatable question. It’s easy to forget, particularly here on Ask Trish, where we focus our attention on youth digital experiences, but adults are online too, including on social media! And as much as we like to post selfies, there’s nothing mom loves more than to post a picture of you…a phenomena that we often call “sharenting,” or parents sharing content about their children online. But what if you don’t want your mom to do that? As I explain below, that’s an extremely legitimate, valid feeling to have – but it can be hard to communicate to a Facebook-obsessed parent. Thankfully, I’ve got you! In this week’s post, I’m going to briefly break down how to have this conversation, including what ideas and themes to emphasize. Sound like a plan? Let’s get into it:

First, set the stage. If you want to convey that you’re serious/that you’re hoping to have a serious chat, it’s important to select the right environment – maybe not during your sibling’s choir concert. Instead, when there aren’t any distractions around/things are relatively calm, tell your parent you have something to share and ask if you can briefly chat with them. (Trust me, you’ll get their attention!)

Once you’ve sat down together, it’s time for the conversation itself. Here, I’d start by 1) clearly stating that their sharenting makes you uncomfortable and articulating why. Something as simple as, “Mom, I really love how proud you are of me and that you want to show me off to your friends, but it makes me uncomfortable, and I’d really prefer that you don’t.” As for articulating why you dislike their sharenting, here, I’d emphasize the lack of consent that often characterizes sharenting. One of the core principles of good digital citizenship is seeking out and acquiring consent before sharing a picture or video of someone online. Doing so without their consent – even if done inadvertently or with good intentions – can violate their trust and (understandably) make them feel betrayed. It’s a totally valid way to feel! Often, lots of sharenting involves pictures and videos posted without kids’ consent – and perhaps even photos and videos that you’ve told them “embarrass” you! Some parents may feel like embarrassing their children is totally normal, but by reframing your concerns about consent and a lack of discussion, you can make a more, strong compelling case for why their sharenting bothers you so much.

Next up is explaining why they ought to rethink sharenting more generally. Here, there are two things that I would emphasize. First up is 1) the fact that it sets a bad example. I’m willing to bet that your mom – like many parents today – have opinions and rules about your device use and social media practices. But there’s nothing that makes those rules seem more obsolete than when the parent enforcing them doesn’t follow the rules themselves! Telling you that you “need to think carefully about what you post” and then not doing the same themselves sets a very poor example. A lot of parents don’t realize this, but reminding your parent of this truth can be really powerful. Say something like, “I’m not sure what I’m supposed to make of you telling me to be thoughtful and considerate when posting online, but you then not being thoughtful or considerate of me. I think that that’s a really good principle, and I’d appreciate it if you embraced it in this context, too.” Of course, I’d stay away from shaming your parent – that’s not the goal here. The goal is behavior change, which is much more easily accomplished without yelling or taunting.

The second thing that I’d emphasize (and a good way to round out the conversation!) is that sharenting 2) also presents potential security risks, risks that have been exacerbated in the AI age. Indeed, with today’s AI technologies, it’s easier than ever to take photos and videos of folks on the internet and make deepfakes of them, or synthetic media that imitates their likeness. This can lead to some pretty cool images and videos…but also some pretty nefarious deepfakes, including sexualized deepfakes. (The most recent celebrity victim of sexualized deepfakes was Taylor Swift.) People can also leverage publicly available audio of someone to create recordings that sound exactly like them – which they can then use to extort, blackmail, or manipulate. Sharenting (particularly where those images and videos are readily accessible) makes you an easy target…something that, I’d imagine, your parents would like to avoid. Educate your parent about the security risks, perhaps offering to share a news article or two after your conversation. 

Hopefully, that should get our question-er’s mom – and all of our readers’ parents! – to minimize the sharenting! Let me know if these tips actually work/are helpful. If they do work, as you bask in the feeling of being helped, do me a favor and help me out: share any other tech or internet-related concerns or musings you have here. I’m excited to learn more about what’s on your mind, and hopefully, keep sharing valuable advice. Thank you for contributing!

Have a great week,



Does your #mom keep posting #embarassing pics of you online? 😳 If you’re wondering how to tell her — or any parent — to stop, this week’s post is for you! Trish breaks down how to encourage your parents to stop #sharenting Link in bio ⬆️

♬ original sound – Ask Trish

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