There’s been a thought nagging me for some time.
It relates to a forgotten audience in the Facebook privacy debate.
When the community talks about Facebook, popular themes are often 1) our own privacy settings 2) how teenagers use Facebook and its impact 3) cyberbullying and its nasty side effects, etc.
Facebook defenders point out that how we use the social network is up to us, as individuals. We choose what to share. We can adjust our privacy settings. We can choose not to use Facebook at all. We should learn how to be civil online. Teens and others have reference to resources such as the Facebook Safety Centre and government resources like Cybersmart.
But there are some people who are being talked about on Facebook (and Twitter, and blogs, and FlickR and more) who may not have given even permission.
IT’S OUR CHILDREN, PEOPLE!
How many of you (or your friends) share their children’s photos on Facebook? I know I share photos and funny stories and milestones relating to my two sons regularly. Should I?
Will my sons appreciate the photos of themselves wearing watermelon helmets, emerging freezing from the swimming pool, blowing out birthday candles and looking like baboons, that they played Warhammer once upon a time? I don’t know that I would …
We talk about creating a digital footprint and personal brands more often these days. This next generation (call them Gen Z, Millenials, the Connected Generation or whatever) are having a digital footprint established for them by proud and tech savvy parents. Is this fair to them? Should they be able to start with a clean slate – like we did?
Our parents didn’t broadcast our learning milestones to the world. We don’t have our baby photos catalogued on the ‘net (unless you have loaded them yourself; stay tuned to what happens with Facebook Timeline).
This is the first generation to be facing this potentially embarrassing phenomenon. Granted, they may face it together, placing them on an even playing field, but will their childhood footprint cause them future angst and even problems if for example they need to ‘reinvent’ themselves?
We’re educated about the safety aspects of the online world. I don’t check into my children’s school on Foursquare for example and I don’t use their names on Twitter. But aside from identification issues, have you come across any educational material that prompts you to consider your child’s future online profile and the emotional impacts?
It’s a cliché to save an embarrassing photographs for your child’s 21st birthday party.
Is that redundant now? Have they all been published?