Let me start by saying the most obvious and most important thing first: Kids are strictly off limits.
I do not care about what you think about their parents. I do not care about your theories or the narratives you create surrounding these kids. I do not care how you raise your own children or how your parents raised you. I do not care what evidence you think you have or what convoluted reasoning you have come up with to justify this behavior. I do not care.
What I do care about is the fact that these are children. No matter what family they are born into, no matter the privilege that family affords them. They are kids. They are learning and growing and exploring and they are doing their very best under extremely unique circumstances. I care that these kids go to school with other kids who have phones, computers, access to the internet, access to what you all are saying about them.
Anyone who has children of their own, works in childcare or anyone who knows anything about children knows how hard raising a child is. But, I don't think we all consider what a monumentally difficult task raising a child in the public eye is now. To be clear, the last generation of royals (the Queen's grandchildren) largely grew up without social media, during a time before everyone could pick up a phone and share their thoughts and opinions with everyone around the world whenever they wanted.
Sure, they had the media and press to contend with, and that is its own monster within itself but this is different. This is so much more dangerous than anyone seems to realize. Which is why we all have a responsibility to ensure that these kids, any kids growing up in the public eye, are given the same consideration as any child you know personally.
Growing up is hard enough without hundreds of thousands of anonymous people vomiting their opinions about you all the time. Raising a child is hard enough without strangers critiquing your every parenting choice. While we may be fans, we may love this family and love discussing their every move, the fact of the matter is: We don't know them. We have no idea what goes on in their private lives. We don't know what parenting techniques they use or what the kids are thinking or feeling about the spectacle they were born into.
What we do know is this: more kids are struggling with anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation and other mental illness than ever before.
And a lot of research points to social media as a cause for this.
Social Media is still new and, while I strongly believe it has the power to do more good than bad, that only remains true if we use it responsibly. The comments, posts, stories and tweets I've been seeing the past two days aren't responsible, they are dangerous and they have consequences.
I've been deleting posts, blocking accounts, hiding replies, turning off comments and so much more over the past two days because adults are being cruel. Adults are being petty and vindictive and using children in an attempt to hurt their parents. The entire thing is completely maddening. It makes me incredibly angry and it should make you angry too.
Up to this point, I've been trying to keep a level head about it, to make points and arguments that might convince some people to stop. If you feel like the point has been made and you understand whole-heartedly that kids are off-limits then I invite you to stop here because this is where I am about to be a lot less polite about this issue and there will be swearing.
I've seen the most convoluted defenses of these comments as well. People claiming they can attack one child because the media might do the same at some point in the possible future if another child ever behaved the same way, maybe? Consider this: if you are using hypotheticals about one child to justify real time attacks against another, then you very simply a hateful, spiteful and altogether shit human being.
Nobody is saying the media is innocent, on the contrary I blame the media wholeheartedly for normalizing the hatred we see thrown around online all the time. But justifying your shitty behavior because the media does it too isn't a justification, its a confession. It proves that you are reading, clicking and engaging with those awful articles you claim to hate. You are driving traffic to those sites, to those stories and you are actively encouraging the media to continue writing their hate-fueled clickbait trash.
You are the fucking problem here.
The media writes what sells, what gets people engaged and talking. Screenshotting or referencing headlines drives people to go looking for the articles. When the press realizes that certain types of articles are doing well, they are going to write more of them. When they realize that people enjoy bullying literal children on the internet, they are going to bully those children.
It absolutely enrages me that anyone thinks any child can be subject to this kind of treatment. It makes me viscerally angry to hear people trying to justify this treatment of literal children. We all know why certain kids are being attacked and its not because of what they are doing or saying or how they are dressing; after all, they are just kids and they are still learning.
These kids are being attacked because you hate their parents.
You are allowed to have whatever opinions you want to have about the adults. But let's make something clear: none of the adults did anything all weekend that anyone could legitimately criticise. They showed up in support of the Queen. They did their jobs. They honoured her Majesty. The entire weekend was carefully planned to ensure the drama of the last two years was nowhere to be seen. The focus was on the Queen and the future of the monarchy and they demonstrated what a wonderful future that will be.
You are attacking a four year old because the narratives you have been telling yourself the past two years aren't true and that enrages you. The weekend went absolutely perfectly for every single party involved (except for maybe Bo-Jo) and that pisses you off.
The Cambridges are a loving and affectionate family who take their jobs as representatives of the crown with the utmost seriousness but know when it is appropriate to let go and have a bit of fun. They aren't briefing the press against anyone and they are close with their family. The Sussex's aren't trying to overshadow the Queen or bring the drama back to her doorstep during these celebrations. They are living privately much of the time and they weren't trying to drop a bomb on the family this weekend.
There was nothing to criticise because they refused to play the game people have been expecting them too. They rewrote the rule book and made it work for everyone in order to keep the peace. Therefore, you've turned to attacking literal children in order to avoid the cognitive dissonance of realizing you are wrong.
Now the one thing we can all hopefully agree on is that kids shouldn't be responsible for their parents. They should be able to grow up in peace and they should never be subjected to online bullying just because they are public figures. They are, however, growing up publicly and people will want to talk about them. In order to ensure we are all on the same page about what we can and can't say about literal children online, I've compiled a little list about what is fair to comment on.
Wow, they are so beautiful/cute/handsome/pretty/sweet/lovely/adorable/kind
I think they sort of look like their mother/father/grandmother/grandfather/uncle/aunt/cousin
They've grown so much, they are so handsome/beautiful/tall/handsome/sweet
I love their top/hair/shoes/clothes
They have the most beautiful/pretty/gorgeous/handsome (insert physical characteristic here i.e. eyes, hair, nose, face etc.)
They have so much energy, it's adorable/sweet/lovely/fun/enjoyable to see that
I bet their personality is so kind/sweet/energetic/funny/serious/witty/cute/shy
I think they are probably the smartest/funniest/kindest/sweetest kid in their class
There are so many people! This could be quite overwhelming/overstimulating/difficult/strange for them but I empathize/understand why they might seem a little shy/overwhelmed/rambunctious/uncertain about it, they are just kids.
They did such an amazing/incredible/wonderful/brilliant job today!
I think they are really close with their mother/father/grandmother/grandfather/uncle/aunt/cousin! They look like they are having fun/enjoying themselves/really love playing with (insert person here)
Now, this isn't absolutely everything but I hope you enjoyed it & it gives a fairly good idea of what is appropriate and what isn't. And if you are ever unsure about whether something you are saying is crossing the line ask yourself this: Would I be offended or hurt if someone I didn't know ever said this about me or my child?
And the answer is: if you had to ask yourself this question then don't post it. If you have a single doubt that this could be misconstrued or used negatively then don't post it.