You are already participating in The Online Parenting Challenge. The good news is it only lasts for 18 years, per child. The bad news is no one has ever done it in the exact same environment twice, so parents are bound to slip up. I’m not even your host for this challenge; your inner voice will guide you, scare you, compare you to other parents, and tempt you to make decisions based in fear and with less than full understanding of circumstances.
Who is ready to play in 18 steps? Oh, that’s right, this challenge is compulsory, you do not opt out.
Step 1: over-document a child’s birth.
A friend recently indicated his grandchild’s baby pictures were not available online. The parents were choosing not to publish them. What a novel thought that was to entertain.
Steps 2-4: share enough footage to ensure your child could never be President. Mandatory items include potty-training, bath time, random naked appearances in public.
Step 5: if anyone has to ask where your kids go to school or who their teacher is you may have skipped step 5. Try again. For the rest of the child’s compulsory education.
Step 6: include documentation of any developmentally appropriate speech impediments or embarrassing mispronunciation. Bonus points for words that sound like naughty words.
Step 7: other children your child plays with may need to be included in published pictures. Irrespective of the other child’s parental views on online photography you need to do this to prove s/he has friends.
Step 8-10: several years of documented sports photos are required per child; turns out you can get away with fewer after your first child. This should include multiple shots showing the same, unintelligible “moves.” These may or may not include jargon clearly in excess your child’s skill level.
(Without bragging, I am an expert in this step and can provide continuous, unintelligible expertise in these steps.)
Step 11: parents may start to encourage prepared social media images of their children for their personal feed. Around this point, children may start to ask about posts with them in it.
Your children may even like and subscribe to your channel. Not to brag too much, but one of my children cuddled with me and told me this at 6, so I guess I am advanced.
Step 12: at this step, parents find their children have followed in their footsteps and are now curating their own image on social media for themselves.
Sometimes parents follow their children at this stage, to observe what images their children publish of themselves.
Step 13: children start to try to move electronics into their personal spaces. It is time to investigate how to create a wifi dead zone in their bedroom. Please post the details below, we are all interested.
Step 14: it now takes an inordinate amount of selfies to ‘get the right one.’ There are many technical gremlins in between those duck lips and that camera … at arm’s length … I guess.
Step 15: do not even think of asking to be in your child’s pictures with them. Expect to be pushed out of the way with all the other clutter on the kitchen counter. Photobomb at risk of verbal assault.
Step 16: your child will start to demand upgraded devices. Also, your child will not work. It is a paradox which does not trouble them.
Step 17: encourage others to professionally capture images of your now young adult. Some parents go for style points at this step with aggressive or mildly suggestive pictures to represent their final year of compulsory education.
Step 18: over document him/her reaching basic education levels. Be certain to publish where each child will live, go to school, can be found for the next several years.
And that’s all.
You have completed the 18 Step Online Parenting Challenge.
Unless you have more than one child.
I’m sure there’s a badge for that, but you’d have to ask your child how to download it and wait for them to be able to help you, and tell you what to do with it anyway, so maybe skip that part.
But seriously, don’t skip sharing where you are in this challenge below!