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Friday, July 14, 2017

Are We Destroying Our Kids’ Privacy on Social Media?

The other day, my 17-year-old son took my breath away. He said that he was glad that he was little back before it was the norm to post about all the cute things that kids do on Facebook. 


Now, I take what my kids say to me seriously and this is a serious kid. He went on to say that he felt like there was no privacy anymore. Everyone was posting on the internet what they had for dinner or what cute thing their kid did or what dumb thing their kid did…

kids privacy-001

Let me pause here for a moment to say that the irony that the fact that I am sharing a summary of this conversation on my blog is not lost on me, but bear with me here. Because that’s immediately what I thought of first…not the cute pictures of messy faces on Facebook…the blog posts.

A number of years ago, someone posted on a homeschool forum this sentiment: those who blog about their homeschool and their kids are violating their children’s trust and privacy. At the time I didn’t think too much about it, because I try really hard to write my story on this blog, not my children’s stories. I figure that their stories are theirs to tell. And while I do sometimes share something that they wrote or drew or whatever, I generally ask permission before I do that, because I know that I am sharing someone else’s property and I need their permission to do that.

Generally the kids are all like “yes, please!” and when they say, “please don’t” I respect that. What is the point of asking for permission if you are going to ignore a “no” answer? Generally speaking, my kids were happy that I talked about our homeschooling on the blog.

But Facebook tends to be a different kettle of worms. I think that’s because typically when I post to Facebook, I’m only posting to my friends, whereas if I post to my blog, I’m conceivably posting to the whole world (not that I have any illusions that the whole world will see it).  When I post to Facebook, I think of it as posting to close friends and family, kind of like how I might talk to close friends and family when we get together anyway. And I don’t ask first.

The thing is…when you have almost 300 Facebook friends, it isn’t just close friends and family. It’s a whole bunch of other people, too.

Of course, you can break up your Facebook list and just post to segments of it. How many of us do that unless we have a pressing need to do so?

The truth is that I feel guilty. I think I may have overstepped some boundaries.

My intentions were good, but I wonder if sharing things about my kids both here and elsewhere has just been a bad thing to do. There are a lot of reasons I do share:

  1. To remember!  I cannot tell you the number of things that I have forgotten that I thought I could not forget. And then Facebook reminds me of a picture I posted 5 years ago or a cute kid event. And I remember it as though it were yesterday.
  2. To encourage and share with other parents who are going through the same challenges I am.
  3. Because my kids did something funny, clever, and bone-headed and I want to share it with my friends who will appreciate it. And will pat me on the head and let me know that their kids do that stuff, too.

When we share things online, it’s different from talking to your Mom or your best girlfriend about it. It might be seen by anybody.  It’s also different from keeping a private journal or scrapbook, even though many of us treat blogs and social media pages like personal journals or scrapbooks.

And while my little kids want me to share stuff online (I guess they are little performers), it’s clear to me now that my almost adult kid has changed his mind about that. His perspective has changed, which makes perfect sense, because he’s grown up. He knows more now than he knew ten years ago or even 2 or 3 years ago.

Have we destroyed our kids privacy with social media?

Have we destroyed our own privacy as well? And if so, how has this changed the way we live? And what should we do about it?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

1 comment:

  1. In the back of my mind I think I had that thought... I'm not a big poster on Facebook though, because in the back of my mind I know that anybody can see it by the time the friends of friends of friends ad infinitum repost. I work in Human Resources so I know how much trouble the wrong post can affect someone's job, especially if applying for one (drunken party pics, anyone?), so I try to think of how my posts will impact my son's future prospects. A few slip by, though; I'm a proud mama after all, but overall I tend to err on the side of caution. However, I do appreciate this post because I think it's very important to protect our children and I've seen far too many parents share far too many intimate and extremely embarrassing things about their kids.


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