The Facebook generation2 min read . Updated: 22 Jun 2012, 04:56 PM IST
The Facebook generation
The Facebook generation
What is your opinion on putting children’s pictures on Facebook on a daily basis? My sister puts photos, quotes from everyday conversations, the newly-made interior of her children’s room, and sometimes even small video clips of her children on Facebook. Her children have quite a fan following, and she feels there is nothing wrong with it. The children are now 3 and 5, and this has been going on since their birth. I cannot actually spell out what is wrong with this, but as their uncle I feel there is some breach of the children’s privacy beyond a point here, and I fear some perverted person may have too much access to these children, including knowing where they live. Over 50 people respond to the uploads each time, which makes me fear that this is too much of the public being let into the private. There are details about where they stay, their new car is in the photos, with the number visible. Am I being old-fashioned and paranoid here? The only thing I have been able to control is pictures of me and them, which I have requested should not be put up.
Having said that, many people (both those who post and those who loyally follow such posts) don’t see anything wrong in this, and at some level it is a matter of there being performers and there being an audience—anyone who does not want to participate can simply stay away. However, the ethical question here is whether being shown this way on a near-daily basis on Facebook is something that the children themselves would like. They are unaware now, but may not like it in retrospect when they are old enough to know that their words and actions and various moments were so much in the public domain.
One writer in The Wall Street Journal calls it “oversharenting"— the tendency of parents to share a lot of information and photos of children online.
Rather than harming the children a whole lot, this exhibition of their endearing moments on a social networking site has repercussions for the parents themselves. Quite a few of them are addicted to the activity, and may end up being sort of scriptwriters and directors and photographers of family life, with one eye a little too often on the number of “Likes" and “Awwws" that come in response to every cute picture or quote from their child’s day. When there is an awareness of a growing audience out there for what is everyday, personal, and most often spontaneous children’s behaviour, there is going to be some degree of self-consciousness, and (dare I say) narcissism, embedded in the process.
Your fear about the security aspect is well-founded, given that you say that locations, car numbers, and other family members are identified in these uploads.
With families now separated by time and space, the sharing of beautiful moments in a growing family’s life is something that grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends, all yearn for, and some of these media are wonderful ways to share. Perhaps better privacy settings, and more of an album-sharing rather than a very easily accessible facility like Facebook, is what you could suggest to your sister?
Gouri Dange is the author of ABCs of Parenting.
Write to Gouri at email@example.com
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