Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Facebook: Another Way to Eff Up Our Kids?

Heyyyyy, thanks to Sara McClung's Blog Me MAYbe blogfest, I've decided to post again today, thereby escalating the maybe up to a surewhynot. Today's topic: May I Ask You Something?

So, I read this article on Yahoo ("The Facebook-Free Baby"), which had me questioning what a lot of us may be doing on a regular basis re: social media. The gist of it was this: YOU MAY BE EFFING UP YOUR CHILD'S LIFE BY POSTING THEIR EVERY MOVE AND THEIR PHOTOS OF NEKKID REARS ON FACEBOOK. (Not in those words) It cited a number of different reasons why this is a really bad thing. The first of which is this:

"...parents are discovering that once content becomes digital, it can be easily copied and redistributed willy-nilly...The result: photos of kids in compromising, colorful circumstances, and status updates recounting even more compromising, colorful circumstances, intended for a select few, are now spread out over the Web for everyone."

Frankly, this has always scared the schnit out of me.

But the difficulty in controlling what happens to digital content is only one reason the author of this article, Steven Leckart (Wall Street Journal), has decided not to post any information or photos of his child on Facebook (or presumably any other social media). Essentially, he says, by posting a regular stream of our children's activities and photos, we're documenting their lives in a very permanent, sequential way, thereby passing on to them a "digital legacy." And a digital legacy can be really hard to shed.

Thanks, Mom, for posting this on Facebook.*
Unlike grownups who have the option of deleting oops updates minutes after we stupidly post them, children may be staring down the barrel of twenty years' worth of oops updates about them. Things like how they missed the potty when they pooped at two years old or how they were so tragically dumped minutes before the prom--things, which at the time we post them, may merely be tools to find solace and support, or perhaps, to make a funnyhaha, but may become your future-self child's worst nightmare (or for some kids, the current self).

Leckart doesn't necessarily condemn "oversharingting," however. He's merely explaining his choice to not participate in it, while urging caution when sharing the lives of our own children on social media. Something I'd urge you to do, too, if you're not already. OBVIOUSLY don't go posting nekkid pics of your kiddos on the net. It may be cute to you, but OMeffingG there are creepsters out there.

If you're friends with that Facebook Carol off to the right there (up a little), you may have already guessed my view on things, as I don't post pictures of my children or information that actually reveal anything about them publicly. Things like personal info. Or their faces. Or tan lines. It's not that I'm not hugely proud to be their mom, or that I don't want to show off how totally sweet and precious and amazing they are. It's that I'm paranoid and overprotective and rather hermitish and super private. But, too, my goal for that Facebook account isn't so much a personal one as a professional one. So, there's that.

I actually think a lot of us are very cautious already, especially parents, thankfully. And the truth is I love, love, love to see photos of your families and read about what y'all are up to. I realize this totally makes me a hypocrite. But I do think about the potential pitfalls of sharing (in particular when it becomes oversharing)--not just of the lives of our children, but of ourselves.

So, my question(s) to you guys is: Have you ever started to post something too personal and stopped yourself? Or posted something that you either deleted or later changed its settings to private? Where do you draw the line? What constitutes oversharing?

*This is not actually a photo of me or anyone I know. My mom did NOT post this on Facebook. Or anywhere. She's way nice.


  1. The kids seem to pretty good at effing up their own lives through Facebook, without any early help from their parents. I don't think that even adults should go onto Facebook for any purpose other than to promote their business. Once those details are out there, they stay there for anyone to use as they see fit, forever.

  2. I've talked extensively with my 8th grade students about social media and we agree--many parents are posting too much info about them. While I like to hear about my friends' kids, I don't think pictures should accompany most posts, especially when they're "funny" pictures. They won't be funny to that kid when he's trying to get into college or she's looking for a professional job. I certainly don't think parents mean any harm but, because we didn't grow up with social media the way our kids are, we're not as aware of the repercussions.

    Great post--it's something for people to think about!

  3. I've actually been thinking about this a lot lately. I'm pregnant with my first child, and my husband and I have already discussed not posting pictures of them online. I think we'll just do an old fashioned photo album!

  4. I don't post my children's pictures online. I rarely if ever refer to them by name. But in general, I *have* to be extremely private because of what I do for a living, so most of my personal life is off-limits online. I think about this every time I tweet or post. Speaking of--FANTASTIC post, Carol!

  5. Interesting points Carolina. I do post a bit about my daughter's swimming so family can see it, but I don't post much about her. She and some of her friends are also my friends and I don't want to embarrass her so I resist. Because she's 15 already and I wouldn't want to be embarrassed.

    I'm also going through a really challenging time work wise where our company is going out of business in 2 years because it wasn't funded in the latest UAW contract. Although I have a lot of bad feelings about it, I've resisted talking about it on Facebook or my blog. I don't want it to come back and bite me.

  6. There is another side to this coin. Due to circumstances beyond my control, I have almost no mementos from my own childhood. I would love it if my parents had had the ability to archive things like school projects, photos, my writing ...

    But that being said, as a dad, I am very careful. My eldest refuses to have a Facebook account, and uses mine when she wants to look at funnehs by George Takei, who is her hero. My youngest has a Facebook account, but we've urged her not to use her real name, and not to give out personal information. Plus the rule is she has to stay friends with mom and dad, and let us look at her account whenever necessary.

  7. This is a good point, Carol. I never thought of it this way about kids being later affected. I do post pics of kids on my fb because we have a huge family and this is a great way to share photos. I don't share photos of my kids on my blog though (unless their face is covered) for privacy reasons. Though, I will have to at some point separate my author fb with my personal fb so my family photos won't be with people I don't really know...
    Good discussion.

  8. I'd be very very cautious when it comes to children and personal lives of family and friends. I do like to think my particular part of blogworld is a lovely gorgeous place filled only with lovely gorgeous people mind you!! LOL! take care

  9. This is a really interesting post, Carolina. I have three kids and for the most part, I keep them off of my blog for this exact reason. I have a mommying side, and a writing side and the side I choose to make public, is only the writing side. No "oops" moments or private family moments, because quite honestly, sharing those things with strangers seems. . . well, strange:) Yes, sometimes I'll post a pic or something but actually, the ease of which people can post ANYTHING now is kinda freaky to me. Kids too - it's a different world than when I was a kid and you had to wait for photos to be developed!

  10. I do see this side of things--the creepsters, the stalkers, etc--but I do post photos of my family and kids to my FB account because, well, I don't scrapbook. Sometimes the only way I can preserve something without worrying I'll lose it, or forget about it, or whatever, is to upload it.

    Now, I don't post anything containing child nudity because that is just weird and wrong, and I don't post things that would be embarrassing to the little one later on in life. I don't post many photos of us on my blog, because it is less secure than my private FB account.

    But at the end of the day, I have to wonder: if it was me, would I be embarrassed that my mom posted pictures of me as a baby/child on FB? As long as they weren't naked pictures, no, I would be fine with it. People always bring up the "looking for a job" thing, but it's not like employers can hack into your parents' private FB account and then deny you a job because they found a picture of you in your diaper as a kid.

    I dunno. There's two sides to it, for sure, and I think the key is to find a happy medium.

  11. I've nearly closed my FB account many times because I simply don't use it. People keep tagging pics of my kids(without my permission) that end up on there and I take them down. I don't talk about them, say their names, or show their pics. It also scares me and I don't want them to have a digital legacy. If they want to create one when they are older, that's up to them.

  12. I have a friend who is a mommyblogger and she basically makes a living off of writing about her kids. When her oldest got too old to be baby-cute, she had another kid. I don't mean to imply that she's a bad mom, because she isn't. She loves her kids and she's a very nurturing mother. But I have often wondered what toll that kind of weight is going to bring, when mommy makes money setting up cutesy scenarios starring her children so that she can write about them.

  13. My barometer:

    I won't/don't post anything I can't laugh about TO MY KIDS' FACES.

    (Luckily, we all have a good sense of humor and laugh about most of life's embarrassing moments.)

    Still. It's my Facebook, not theirs and I have definitely started to type something then stopped myself. I don't want to humiliate them.

    They are old enough to have their own Facebook pages to do that. (Kidding, of course. We've talked extensively about the "permanence" of anything you post these days.)

    I like the learning tool social media provides for my kids, the discussions it fosters, and the opportunity to get a glimpse into their days and what they think is important enough to share.

    I am proud of them. I post occasional pictures of their achievements. But I never ever ever exploit their weaknesses or mistakes for a laugh.

    (Well. Never say never.)

    Great topic, Carol!

  14. I refuse to post my kids' pics online. Unfortunately, my stance has caused a lot of arguments with my husband... The way I look at it, as a parent, I can't protect my kids from everything, but when there is something I can protect them from, I'm going to do it.

  15. I think you are wise! For all the reasons you state. I don't have kids, but I don't talk about my wife or reveal anything personal about our lives. She didn't sign up for that.

  16. No child of mine will be having any access to FB until they can vote. I've posted pictures in the past (safe ones), but I've stopped now. I've seen what can happen and it's not at all nice.

  17. I'm currently childfree, but if I'm eventually blessed with kids, I hope I never become a so-called "moo" who's constantly taking pictures and posting and squeeing about every last thing her kids do and say. Long before FB, I thought it was creepy how some parents take pictures of their kids in the bath and such, and even found it kind of tempting fate to share sonogram pix online.

    There were a few times in the past I posted statuses and Tweets that verged on TMI, but I haven't done that in a long time. I have a number of Orthodox friends in my network, and I don't want them to get the wrong impression of me. Even if they might see me wearing (modest) pants from time to time outside of religious events, or even if they suspect I'm not a virgin, I don't want them knowing details!

  18. This is so interesting! I'm not in the position to worry about this yet, with kids--but I've certainly worried about it just for ME before. Posts that I thought were funny or things that were kind of personal that on the day I still felt like sharing... I've definitely gone back in and deleted things.

    As for when i have kids, I think I'll be taking the "Carol" approach. I won't be posting things NOT for fear of embarrassing them later (though that will be a consideration anyway) but because I'm too paranoid about all the creepos out there. Ugh. The thought makes me shudder just thinking about it.

  19. I don't have kids, but I see my Facebook friends always posting things that make me go, "Really? You had to tell the world that?!"

    The other day I unfriended an old high school acquaintance because he talked about his TEENAGE DAUGHTER'S PERIOD. I'm a fantasy writer and I can't even make this shit up. That was absolutely ridiculous.

  20. lol. I saw this article! I have stopped myself from posting stuff I felt was too personal. When I was in HS, it was cool to post anything and everything, no I just hate it and I only post updates about graduation and my books.

    I know people who give their kids fb when they are born and I think that's dumb.

  21. I keep a separate FB account for my personal life that's got heavier security and my rule is to not friend anyone I don't know IRL. I try very hard to keep any posts about my girl upbeat and not embarrassing. After all, before there was Facebook, there were older siblings who think it's cute to trot out pants wetting stories at your wedding (not that I'm bitter or anything...).

    I did once post a pic of my girl in her really awesome Halloween costume on my writer FB page, but only kept it up for two days just to briefly share the awesome.

  22. These are really good points. We live in such a different time now where it seems to be acceptable to post everything about everything! I agree that there are some definite safety concerns when it comes to posting about young children, and of course the embarrassment factor!

  23. Very interesting post! I do post a lot of pics of my kids on fb because my parents live overseas and it's an easy way to share. I don't feel too worried about it. We live in a small town. I'm not too concerned about stalkers learning their names and tracking them down ... or that someday they'll be plagued by the info I post about them. I figure there's so much digital information to wade through, who is going to bother? ... unless they're running for office or something. :) I try my best not to over share, though (I think). :)

  24. I was just thinking about Facebook/social networking and privacy. The web is so public these days, and information is so easy to find through searches.

  25. I tread very lightly with FB. I'm a teacher and I'm often appalled at what some of my colleagues share about school. I think it's a slippery slope plastering too much of your personal life out there.

  26. Great post! And yes, VERY scary world out there. I don't worry too much (and maybe I should) about posting pics mainly because of the privacy settings I've chosen and also because my daughter and son both will disown me if I embarrass them (I always get their "permission" before posting). And the main reason I post them is to share with family.

    But this has definitely got me thinking. And a little nervous. Oy.

  27. I don't even go on to my FB account. I only opened it last year, and I kinda hate it. Me and FB just never connected. Almost every day I think about deleting it.
    In fact, the ONLY reason I haven't deleted my acct. is because it notifies me weekly when birthdays are coming up.
    Anyway, I don't post any pictures of my kid on FB.

  28. I don't hardly ever use FB, but everyone else (sisters I mean) puts pics of my son up there, and my stepdaughter has her own account. However, my FB account is locked down to friends of friends, and I have a seperate page for my writing. That is uncool to post embarassing pictures or stories about your kids! Though I may have giggled at that shaved head one...

  29. I've been thinking I need to create a separate account for writer-me and personal-me. I should probably make that a priority - thanks for the reminder!

  30. Good thing to keep in mind. I rarely share about my kids on Facebook. Almost never on my blog. I don't use their names on the blog, but I have on Facebook. And I think before I post because I don't want to mortify them now or in years to come. (Too much.)

    Besides, too many posts and photos about kids is really annoying. Parents and a few close relatives might care a lot. Everyone else in mildly interested. At best.

  31. hi miss carolina! for me im not allowed on facebook or twitter or allowed to put my picture on my blog or anywhere on the net. i gotta wait til im 18 and then i could be on those places or put on my picture if i want to.
    only one of my brothers is on facebook but he doesnt put pictures of our family on it or talk about any of us. mostly he just chats with his friends. cool post!
    ...hugs from lenny

  32. I agree. I find the digital age to be frustrating. People take everything personal and private and post it on facebook. It's upsetting to me, and I try hard not to name my children or post negative things about them.

  33. I read about one of the most viewed porn images that was copied from Facebook. The girl was 17, wasn't nude but rather was in her bra and panties.

    On the news (where I heard about this) the host interviewed the girl and it was ascertained that there are myriad porn producers scanning social media for these types of images.

    Be careful, parents!

  34. For those of you trying to be writers, if you become even a tenth as famous as J.R.R. Tolkien or Stephanie Meyer, people will scan pictures of your families for all the reasons mentioned so far. It's not vain to think this way. But consider that in one part of your brain, you want thousands of people to read your works, and in another part of your brain, you shrug at putting family pictures online.

  35. This is a great post with great points! It's hard sometimes to remember that the internet is PUBLIC, especially as the line between online and Real Life is becoming increasingly blurred. I wonder especially about kids growing up in the social media generation. I'm pretty immersed in social media myself - like I was on facebook when it was only open to a handful of colleges and twitter when barely anyone knew what twitter was - but I remember dial-up and before that a life w/o internet.

    So it's pretty weird. I often find myself not feeling that wary of social media, but on the other hand, I only have to watch out for myself. I've definitely started to write blog posts that I later deleted because not only was it slightly too personal, I realized as I was writing it that it didn't really fit the general theme of my blog. Facebook is weirder because it started out somewhat more private (colleges only) and I used it for personal reasons (finding classmates, keeping up with friends). So now it's a little weird when I get friend requests from online friends (not that I don't love many of my online friends) because it's sort of crossing a line for me.

  36. I rarely post anything about my daughter on facebook. She decided it's not for her...

    I've posted about her on my blog, but never put her name and photo together. You have to know me pretty well to know what she looks like. :)

    I have several former students that are my "friends." If I see them posting stuff that might be frowned on by potential colleges or employers, I inbox them.


Make your comment stand out. Use bold words. Or italics. Whatever.