Sunday, May 13, 2012

Facebook and Your Baby: The Oversharing Dilemma

Kudos to Steven Leckart for his Wall Street Journal article entitled, "The Facebook-Free Baby." Leckart questions the practice of parents "oversharing" information about their babies and young kids, and chooses not to share photos of his young son publicly. He writes:
Two decades ago, parents began registering domains named for their kids. Today, they register Facebook profiles for their unborn children, and even write status updates in first person. Similarly, parents set up Twitter accounts for their infants, and send tweets on their baby's behalf. Messages I've seen range from the banal ("Ate. Slept. Pooped.") to the more self-conscious: "Thanks to social media my day wearing a bear suit will live on to inspire future generations...and embarrass me as a teenager."
But what's wrong with sharing photos through social networks with only your 300 or so of your closest friends? Leckart says,
Although privacy settings allow us to control which circle(s) of friends has access to parts of our profiles, many people either don't understand how to use them or prefer not to. Plus, like record labels and print publishers, parents are discovering that once content becomes digital, it can be easily copied and redistributed willy-nilly (hello, grandparents!). 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.
I've actually thought about this a great deal. While it's nice to share pictures of the baby with grandparents and friends, when does it become a matter of "oversharing?" One of my children is, by nature, very shy and shuns attention. Will she appreciate a record of embarrassing pictures and her silly sayings when she's older? As she grows into adulthood, will new friends, partners or prospective employes have an easy way to research her every waking moment as a kid? Only time can tell what social networks may do with their information someday.

In the end, I think that creating a permanent online record is something that a child should decide once she comes of age. For now, I get along very well by sharing pictures through a private SmugMug or Shutterfly gallery.  And I prefer to talk about our family events and cute sayings during my phone conversations with extended family and friends. Thankfully, my husband feels the same way. While we're extremely proud parents, we prefer to keep our private lives private, and protect the identity of our children while they're young. They may thank us one day.

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