December 5, 2008

Does the 6-year-old boy want to be seen reading "Freakonomics" (the book) on Freakonomics (the blog)?

It is a cute picture, especially if you love kids reading, but:
My husband is K.C. and the kids are Jacob (10) and Jared (6). We live in Connecticut, and K.C. commutes into New York City to work as a portfolio manager. I am a stay-at-home mom with a medical degree.

A few months ago, I thought Jacob would like reading Freakonomics, which he thoroughly enjoyed. After he finished that, I thought he might also like Malcolm Gladwell, so he is now in the midst of Blink.

Our copy of Freakonomics was lying around the house, so Jared started to get interested as well...

I have to share a funny story with you. When I told/asked Jacob about being included in your blog, at first he seemed pleased, but then a slight cloud passed over his face, and he said, “Well, I don’t want to be recognized …” Whereupon my husband reassured him that he would not be followed by paparazzi.
First commenter, one "sunshine" says:
Weird, a child asked not to have his photo put up on a highly-read Web page and both the parent and the editor refused to honor his request. Nonconsensual blogging. This concern may seem like a trivial joke, but look for this issue to increase in coming years.
Is sunshine's criticism apt? Or can we see from the context that the child imagined that once his photograph appeared on a popular blog, strangers would accost him in the street?

And more generally, I do wonder about putting pictures of children up on line. People love to see pictures of kids. It's a nice, happy part of life to see children. Yet some people seem to think that children should not be seen -- that it's dangerous for their children to be visible at all.

On the subject of children reading: I can see why "Freakonomics" and "Blink" make excellent reading for the young. We're so intent on foisting fiction on children, but there is a lot of nonfiction out their to stir their thinking.

14 comments:

Balfegor said...

Yet some people seem to think that children should not be seen -- that it's dangerous for their children to be visible at all.

From "seen and not heard" to neither heard nor seen. That's the ticket.

junyo said...

See they reason why they're called "children" is because they're not "adults". Most "children" have special adults assigned to them called "parents" who use their own judgment as "adults" to make decisions, in lieu of that of the "children", who typically (but not always) have less knowledge, experience, and common sense.

rhhardin said...

Having photos taken is one of the costs of childhood. You just have to put up with it.

I shudder to remember how many Christmas card photos I had to put up with.

laura said...

As for the kid asking his picture not be in the article, I'm pretty sure we don't all that was said about this between the parent and child. And we certainly don't know the parenting 'strategy' (for the lack of a better term) here. Ambitious parents raising ambitious kids, maybe they (the parents) are a little blinded by the exposure or the 'showing off'. And maybe they're down-playing the exposure - not making it such a big deal - so then the kid doesn't think much of it. Who knows, but it is their call.

Moondog said...

I'm glad she informed us that she has a medical degree, otherwise we might think she's just a stay at home mom.

Host with the Most said...

Moondog,

Excellent Point!

E.D. Kain said...

I don't know. If my daughter asked not to be pictured on a blog I would respect that wish. It's very important that parents respect their children. It teaches the children how to respect others. And this seemed a reasonable request. It wasn't like he didn't want to share with his brother. He just wanted some visual anonymity.

Jennifer said...

Sunshine is assuming the conversation ended there. Perhaps it went "I don't want to be recognized." "Don't worry honey, a picture on a blog won't make you famous." "Oh, ok then."

On the other hand, if it didn't go that way, a 6 year old capable of reading Freakonomics surely should have an opinion on his own likeness that should be respected.

As for the stay at home comments, I fully identify with the mom. You don't quite understand the defensiveness until you've spent years soaking in the disdain.

Jennifer said...

Of course, it should be pointed out to the the mom that there is no winning. As a stay at home, half the population assumes you've accomplished nothing worth anything (according to their standards). Mention anything else you've done in your life and the other half of the population jumps down your throat.

Freeman Hunt said...

I'm all for giving kids non-fiction. My kid isn't even two yet, and we easily read as much, if not more, non-fiction than fiction. That said, I could come up with better than Freakonomics. Unless she gave him Freedomnomics to follow it.

the Rising Jurist said...

Random side query: Is Freakonomics something a six-(or ten)-year-old could understand? I haven't read it, so I don't know what the level of the material is, but it seems like it would be over their heads. Just curious.

Moondog said...

It's easy to stereotype but if you live in the Connecticut suburbs and your folks are a portfolio manager and a physician, the Berenstain Bears probably will not do.

Joe said...

Kids ask for a lot of things. Overriding their wishes is what parents do.

TosaGuy said...

There is no reason to put your kid's pic on a high-traffic, public website (as opposed to a private blog for sharing with friends and family) other than the personal vanity of the parents.