Like most parents, I think my kids are pretty amazing. I shoot videos of them singing or playing or putting sunglasses on the dog or whatever silly snippet of their childhood I don't want to forget. I embarrass my teens and tween by hauling out their old artwork or retelling stories about the funny things they did when they were little. I'm proud of their accomplishments and their talents and want to share their triumphs with the world.
But posting them online? Not so sure about that.
YouTube and Vimeo make sharing video online very easy -- maybe too easy. You post that cute clip of your kid and assume that only people who know and love them are watching. But what happens when the video goes viral?
By now, most of you have probably seen the YouTube video of a little leotard-wearing girl dancing along to Beyonce's "Single Ladies" video. On one hand, it's a cute snippet of a precocious toddler. On the other, if a 2- or 3-year-old can mimic Beyonce so well, what else has she been watching? And who else is watching her?
MomLogic talked to clinical psychologist Dr. Cara Gardenswartz about six of the most popular viral videos out there, and the analysis really makes you see these videos in a different light.
The videos show kids mispronouncing words, acting hyper, or freaking out over innocuous things. They're funny -- sort of. But there's something about them that's unsettling. The viewer is being invited to laugh at these children -- by their parents. It's one thing to embarrass your older kids in front of family and friends; it's another thing to expose your child to the world when he's vulnerable.
Maybe I'm being too harsh; I'm sure most of the parents of viral video stars never intended the clip to be viewed by anyone other than out-of-state friends and family members. (In which case... set your account to private, not public.) But there are some to whom I can't give the benefit of the doubt. The videos of children who are clearly upset about something... why are the parents still taping? Drop your camera and comfort your child.
Parents, weigh in: Should videos of kids be allowed to go viral?
Lylah M. Alphonse is a Globe staff member and mom and stepmom to five kids. She writes about juggling career and parenthood at The 36-Hour Day and blogs at Write. Edit. Repeat. E-mail her at email@example.com.