Parents, Do You Think Before You Post?

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My entire childhood is documented in the space of three photo albums. Two photos stand out in my memory: one, infant-me having my diaper changed from a rather compromising camera angle; the other, 2-year-old me seated triumphantly on a potty chair. I remember them because my parents teased that they would show them to any prospective suitors. Even though I knew they were joking, the possibility that those pictures would ever be viewed outside our family horrified me as an adolescent. The written record of my childhood is fairly small, too—a baby book with notes about my weight gain and first words, a collection of birthday cards and letters from family. How different this is from the record many parents are making of their children’s early years now.

The internet and social media open up new possibilities for us to record and share the lives of our families on a much broader scale than ever before. Because of this, parents of young children must think of themselves differently than in the past. Photos like the ones my parents lightheartedly joked about revealing are now revealed routinely to our virtual communities. The off-the-cuff comment my mother may have made to her neighbor about my 2-year-old sassiness is now made by parents to hundreds (and sometimes thousands) of virtual relationships. How many parents realize that they are the custodians of their children’s virtual identity until they are old enough to manage it on their own?

Thinking Ahead

Most discussions of children and online protocol center on privacy settings and password safety for school-age children, but my concern starts earlier. Are we parents protecting and preserving the future privacy wishes and best interests of our small children in our own online posting choices?

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