Something I have been torn over for a while is the question of “How much of my daughter’s life do I share online?”
With blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and other services it’s more convenient than ever to post photos, share little blurbs about their day, and our reactions as parents to certain things. And as an excited parent of a 2 year old girl I find lots of stuff I want to share with others. Even though I’ve been hesitant to blog about her, and I rarely do, people could probably find out information about her pretty quickly online. Between my wife, our families and I, there is more than enough out there. Actually, there is more online than I want there to be at this point.
But I think this is a discussion worth having because I think too many people quickly excuse it and say that “it doesn’t matter”, or if “people really want to find them, then they will.” Or some say, well the future is the internet, so we are just helping them jump online early. But maybe that is more about you than your kids.
I have seen some of the discussions going around, but one that caught my eye was Wess Daniels‘ recent post, Limiting Access: Flickr and Archiving Our Children’s Lives. Wess states:
Now, I am no alarmist and I am not about to get all privacy this and that on you, but I appreciated the question my friend Fernando put to me on twitter: “it’s about giving people control over their “digital destiny.” How will the stuff we post hit our kids future relationships?” And this is really it for me. Not only do we not know what it’s like to have our entire lives archived online, we are the ones choosing what to post and what not to post for the public.
Wess concludes with:
I’ll leave the archiving up to my daughters when they’re ready to do it themselves (Lord knows Google’s got a nice archive on me).
One of the articles that seems to have really challenged Wess’ thinking on this topic was the New York Times article Guardians of their Smiles
from a couple of weeks ago.
This article focuses on the safety of putting so much of our kid’s lives online, but I think Wess hits on something important when he writes, “How will the stuff we post hit our kids future relationships?” As parents we are usually constantly thinking about our kid’s safety, but I do think we fail to realize what affect the online profile we are building them right now could do to them relationally.
I’m currently working with quite a few kids in therapy as well as ministry, and one of the growing conversations that kids are engaging me in is their embarrassment of what their parents are posting about them online, whether it be a picture or some random comment on Twitter. As parents we might think it’s funny to say something like, “my husband just had the birds and the bees talk with our son”, or “sometimes being a parent is exhausting.” As parents we see it as no more than an opportunity to share a piece of our life with others, or to connect with other parents online. But to your kids, it’s more than that.
Now you may not have older kids, and you find no harm about posting stuff about your two year old. But I would ask you to think a bit longer on what you are posting. What effects, if any, will posting this stuff online have on my kids, or their relationships later on?
Just this last month three parents have shared with me how their kids (some as young as 5 and some older) have asked their parents not to post something after a certain event took place.
THINK ABOUT THAT
A five year old had to tell her parent not to post something online that would embarrass her. Wow! Maybe in our rush to share our kid’s live and archive/lifestream their events we are robbing them of something. Maybe it’s quite possible as well that our technology is getting in the way of our relationships with them.
If as a parent I find myself more quickly wanting to post something cute my 2 year old just said, rather than just enjoying that moment….then I have a major problem.
I will continue to wrestle with this topic and you will continue to see me say things about my daughter, but I know it’s something I need to think longer on. And I need to ask myself the question if what I’m doing online is really for them, or really for me? Is it really more about filling up something inside of me than about preparing an online future for them (one that we really aren’t giving them any say in at this point )?