I’m a parent. I’m also a regular poster on social networks. However, unlike many other proud parents, those two areas of my life stay very separate. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll happily coo over a friend’s baby on Facebook as much as the next person. But when it comes to sharing pictures of my own children on social media, I prefer not to.
In a world full of parents sharing every aspect of their offspring’s childhood, I was glad to finally read an article on the BBC that echoed my own reservations.
In the UK, the average parent with a social media account posts 1,498 photos of their child online by their fifth birthday, according to domain name company, Nominet.
Documenting your child’s every move might now be the norm, but has anyone stopped to consider the views of the children? They will grow up with a digital identity that they have had no say in creating or managing.
We’re the first generation of parents raising children surrounded by social media, and in the same way that many people still see the online world as a kind of game where the normal rules of everyday interaction don’t apply. Parents are failing to consider the future impact of their oversharing.
If any of us had grown up with parents who’d printed out pictures of everything we did and posted them through the letter boxes of everyone on our street, we certainly wouldn’t have been very happy about it. Yet we’re inflicting the online version of that on our kids.
On one hand we’re becoming more security aware and risk averse. We’re making more considered decisions about the information we share online, the image we portray and how it might be perceived. But this doesn’t seem to be extending to our children.
Of course, there’s the argument about documenting important milestones and staying in touch with family around the world, but again this doesn’t really cut it for me. I have hard drives full of every important milestone and often share pictures with family on Dropbox or via email. The result is the same, but it’s not shared with the masses.
I’m no luddite and if my children want to create a digital identity when they’re older I certainly won’t be standing in their way. But I won’t be taking that choice away from them either by plastering their early years across social networks.