Chicago mom: Social media is ruining preschool

As many of you know, my youngest started school this week; the older two have been back since August. This is the first time in almost five years I have had a very first, first day of school. My last one was before Pinterest. Heck, it was before many parents were on Facebook! I noticed something:

Pinterest, and perhaps all social media, is ruining preschool.

Now this is coming from the mom who arranges fruit and veggie trays to look like a turkey or a Christmas tree, and who has cut watermelon into hearts for the Valentines party. I’m not immune (or innocent), but when the two bloggers in the group are taking the least amount of pictures, you know there has been a cultural shift.

Now, I’m not a three-year-old and I have visions of grandeur beyond what I am sure I qualify for, and I was overwhelmed. It felt a little like walking a media line with paparazzi snapping photos and shouting names. I actually witnessed a child being asked to re-enact hanging their name up so the parent could get another/better picture.

Parents, we need to calm down. Seriously. There are not 25 Must Have Back-to-School Pictures. Dare I say, two is more than enough. How many of you have, or have looked at your own back-to-school or school pictures? How many of us have a computer full of every special childhood moment and not one printed picture hanging on the wall that is more than five years old? My children are perpetually infants according to my walls. I know that childhood is fleeting  and we are trying to hold on to every single moment with both hands. We are told over and over again to soak it all up, enjoy every moment because it goes by so fast, but pictures don’t slow down time, they just pause the present.

While Pinterest can be great for craft ideas and recipes and has undoubtedly helped preschool teachers everywhere, it’s not reality. It’s still a posed picture that a photographer or blogger arranged and edited to be just so. I heard a speaker once refer to this new social media jungle as living “inside photoshop.” We are seeing everyone’s curated and edited life in real time. They are posed and filtered to put our best foot forward all the time but at what cost? What are we missing out on when we are snapping pictures and planning the perfect post instead of living in the moment?

I may not have a photo of every step my daughter to took to get into her classroom but I have this memory right here, of her running off with barely a glance back with a huge smile on her face. I don’t have a picture with her teacher but if I close my eyes I can still feel her little arms wrapped so tightly around my neck as she hugged me so tight after class and said, “Mommy, I had so much fun and I was so good!”

At the end of the day I want to remember the hug, the smile and the first step to a new year. I want my child to be able to be herself and not worry about “being on” or “smiling” for the camera. My computer may have unlimited memory but my child doesn’t and I want them to remember the hugs too, not the camera in their face every step of the way.

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