How much social-media exposure should your small children get? One answer, for parents who appropriately respect but are perhaps also in denial about the invasive power of the internet, is "none." Don't Facebook your kid, don't Vine your kid, don't Tweet about your kid. That's probably the correct answer, the way not letting your child see any television at all is the correct answer. Good luck!
Here's a more reasonable and attainable standard: Do not sell your baby as a social media performer to do advertising for major corporations.
On Slate, a writer/filmmaker/entrepreneur named Nick Confalone tells the story of how, bored and underemployed, he made his baby into a Vine star, and thence into a commercial pitchbaby for brands including the Gap and Klondike. Eventually he felt guilty about pushing the baby too hard, losing the spirit of fun that had animated their early six-second film adventures together.
It is a monstrous and depressing story. Many parents feel the temptation to share funny anecdotes or images of their children with the world, despite our knowledge that the rest of the world is terrible and evil. There are reasonable ways, maybe, to strike a balance. This is not close to being one of them:
Our Vines were on CNN, Ellen DeGeneres' show, and in the Tribeca Film Festival. We even got recognized in public. Mom friends told me part of our appeal came from seeing what Dad does with the baby when Mom's not around. I let him lick money (oops); I propped him up, but he fell over (oops); I let him suck on a peanut butter jar lid (oops).
In spite of these momentary lapses of parental judgment, Vine commenters unanimously agreed that I was great with my son.
"Lapses in parental judgment." Before this baby had language facility, let alone control over its bowels, Confalone had made it a total sellout. But it's OK now because he sort of regrets it, except where he doesn't:
I loved how it used to be, rolling around on the rug with my son, playing with toys, and talking to him in funny voices. I loved watching him grow up through funny little videos. What I didn't love was making him cry, or ruining wonderful fleeting moments to grab my camera, or making him do things that could potentially embarrass him later in life.
Still, I haven't stopped altogether. I still make personal and advertisement Vines, but I only pitch ideas I know we can do organically, based on what he's interested in at the time, like recording him seeing the simple beauty of a puddle in the backyard that splashes the palm of his tiny hand on a hot day, or sticking his fingers in power outlets. We're making another Vine for Klondike right now, playing off his love for toilet paper tube telescopes.
This is the worst kind of fake confessional. Now he is only selling out his baby if the project has integrity.