Parents’ philosophies on the digital safety of their children is as different as, well, parental philosophies on parenting. I have friends who share every single aspect of their child’s life on social media, starting with the first sonogram. Every milestone, from their first steps to their first day of school is immortalized on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram for all to see. I’m waiting to hear about the first mom to Meerkat her child’s birth.
For me, the issue extends beyond digital safety; it’s more about the decisions you are making about your child’s digital history. I’m by nature an over-sharer, I work in social media and I share just about everything with the exception of sex, politics and religion. I don’t dare imagine what I would have shared about my tots on Facebook had it been around in the early 90’s. Let’s just say I would have been un-friended a lot!
My kids are 25, 22 and 18 and when I was busy raising them, we really didn’t have to struggle with digital safety in the way parents do today. I recall a big brouhaha on the soccer field when we discovered a dad was posting pictures of our kids playing soccer on his blog. Was he identifying our children by name? Did he say when or where the games would be held? The soccer league held a special meeting to review what could and could not be shared by parents. That was about the extent of it, until a few years later, when MySpace was all the rage and my pre-teen daughters were all over it. After one sleepover, one of her friends left her MySpace page open on my desktop. I was horrified to see that she was sharing pictures of scantily clad girls in her bedroom with no privacy controls. I tried telling the child’s mother who looked at me like I was a pervert. She clearly had no clue what MySpace even was or how to access it.
When my family became Facebook obsessed, we began to have conversations with our kids about their digital legacy. It was always their legacy to form though, not mine. My grown children chastise me for sharing photos of them without permission. I overshare, they complain, and I retract for a while. Would I have been slaphappy when they were toddlers, sharing pictures of them sitting on the potty for everyone to see for digital eternity? What you choose to share and not share about your children really is a matter of personal preference.
Safety aside, the question becomes what will you children think of the digital history you are weaving of their life? When they are grown, will they look back and say, “Thanks, Mom, for using my awkward phase as your Facebook fodder”? Or will they love having a testament to their childhood available to access at the swipe of a finger? Only time will tell!
This article is part of our series on Generation Alpha
We seek to provide answers to your most pressing questions about keeping your kids safe online, introducing them to the digital world, and helping them be their authentic selves online.
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