Q. My friend Eleanor likes to post photos of her family on Facebook. Recently she posted one to my timeline that I decided to “hide” because I didn’t think it’s appropriate, but Eleanor thinks it’s “cute.” The photo was of Eleanor’s 14-year-old daughter in a very short and skimpy Halloween costume. Last month she posted a picture of her 16-year-old daughter in a very low-cut short dress. Am I being too old fashioned? How can I tell Eleanor that posting photos of her daughters in revealing clothing is a bad idea?

A. You’re certainly not being too old fashioned to think that your friend is using bad judgment in posting pictures of her daughters in skimpy and/or sexy clothing on Facebook. This behavior teaches children that posting sexy pictures is all right because Mom does it. Prospective employers or scholarship donors may see these photos; peers could circulate these pictures or show them to disapproving parents and affect the girls’ reputations.

You might approach your friend by mentioning that you personally use a lot of caution in what you post because you never know who might see it and you especially worry that a predator might gain access to the photos. Tell her that being careful what you post is a way to protect your children and to teach them what is socially acceptable.

Additionally, I caution you and all other Facebook users not to leave your account logged in on your your computer or mobile device; be sure to log out when you leave the page for any length of time. One mother found an inappropriate posting on her 17-year-old son’s page and was horrified by what she saw. He admitted to leaving his account logged-in, and it was accessed by someone other than himself. These sites are social media, and with them you can appear socially acceptable or socially unacceptable to all who read your postings. Exercise caution to avoid unnecessary heartache.

Betty Richardson, PhD, RNC, LPC, LMFT, is an Austin-based psychotherapist who specializes in dealing with the problems of children, adolescents and parents.

Got a question for Betty Richardson? Email us here and you just might see the answer in an upcoming issue!

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