Parents Posting: What about the Children’s Right to Privacy?

After 6 years of posting photos, videos, and stories about my children on social networking sites, I have to admit I have only ever been concerned about it in terms of safety. I have made sure to set my privacy settings such that only friends can view anything about my children. It struck me tonight that it might not be enough, for their future selves. Our parents and grandparents broke out the embarrassing photo albums to show our significant others. Anyone who came into our home was greeted with a line of photos up the staircase, over the mantel, and so on. I wonder how our current practices of showing off our children online compares, and if it is something that they will be upset about or resent us for later.

Obviously it is up to us as parents to protect our children, but beyond that, what is their right to privacy? When do they assume control over that right? In a medium where, once posted, photos, videos, and information is literally in the cyber sphere forever, what is our responsibility to our children? Are we pushing the boundary too far? How will what we share today impact our children tomorrow? Given the stories about people being fired because of unseemly social network posting, could tidbits we post now impact their future careers? Could our anecdotes be fodder for cyberbullying if uncovered when they get online themselves? I only use Facebook, where I can (mostly) control who is viewing the information I share, as well as sites like Snapfish and Photobucket, which require passwords and personal links to view photos. What about the parents who are posting videos of their children on You Tube, or without activating the privacy controls?

Does it occur to most people that this might be an invasion of their children’s privacy? Do most people think about how this may one day affect their children? Do they consider who might be seeing these photos and videos of their children, and for what purposes? What responsibility should the social media sites have in protecting children, if any? The technological advancements in recent years have come on swiftly, leaving us racing to keep up. We can only speculate how today’s usage will affect us tomorrow, but don’t we have a responsibility as parents to do this very speculating, and act accordingly in our children’s best interests?

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