Social Media, Privacy, and Responsibility

There is one thing you won’t find on this blog, its Facebook or Instagram accounts: photos showing our children’s faces. There are so many sweet and funny photos that would ideally complement many of my posts but I am consciously choosing not to use this wonderful material. Why am I saying no to likes and shares, rainbows and kittens, or whatever else internet love would send my way if I opened this treasure box of adorableness?

My reasons have to do with our family’s beliefs about teaching our children about privacy online and a responsible use of social media.

Protecting privacy online

I know, I know I am writing a blog so it may sound silly for me to talk about online privacy. However, I firmly believe that these two things do not have to contradict one another. I can use pseudonyms instead of my children’s real names and there are many ways to share child photos online without having them reveal too much.

Aside from the obvious reasons of doing this, I also want to set a good example for our kids.

They will be growing up in a world of social networks and, sooner or later, we have to teach our little digital citizens how to navigate the online realm where over-sharing, privacy infringements, and even cyber-bullying are all too common occurrences. The discussion about the right to be forgotten is only beginning and there are so many examples of a little thought-out post or tweet messing up someone’s life. The internet is quick to offend and slow to forgive. And it always, always remembers.

Yet I also don’t believe that avoiding social media is the answer. These networks provide a great way keeping in touch with friends close and far, and can be a good resource. Ever heard about the strength of weak ties? And, most of all, social media is fun!

Teaching by example

Because of these and other reasons we need to teach our children to use social networks responsibly. And how can we even begin to talk about consideration, respect, and the boundaries of sharing the details of their lives and the lives of the people around them if we don’t start by setting an example? If by the time they are old enough to choose what they want to share, the internet already knows everything from their personal details to embarrassing childhood photos?

These considerations guide what I share on this blog, as well as on other social media. There are times when I would really like to post an adorable photo or a funny video but I deliberately choose not to. The internet doesn’t need to know everything. Sending a photo or a link to a cloud folder to family and friends works just as well.

These choices with regards to privacy on social media are, of course, our family’s individual decision. There is no right or wrong way of handling this. I will be the lest person to judge anyone for sharing photos or videos of their children, I love seeing them!

PIN to read later! Photo credit: Mike MacKenzie via Flickr CC

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