March 12, 2016

"Don’t Post About Me on Social Media, Children Say."

"Recently, university researchers asked children and parents to describe the rules they thought families should follow related to technology...."
[T]here was one surprising rule that the children wanted that their parents mentioned far less often: Don’t post anything about me on social media without asking me. As in, no pictures of them asleep in the back of the car. No posts about their frustration with their homework. That victory picture after the soccer game? Maybe. The frustrated rant about the fight you just had over laundry? No way.
It's not surprising to me. I've been saying this on the blog for at least 10 years. It's something parents don't want to hear, so I guess every time they hear it it comes as a big surprise.
Many, if not most, new parents post images of their newborn online within an hour of birth, and some parents create social media accounts for the children themselves....

With the first babies of Facebook (which started in 2004) not yet in their teens and the stylish kids of Instagram (which started in 2010) barely in elementary school, families are just beginning to explore the question of how children feel about the digital record of their earliest years. But as this study, although small, suggests, it’s increasingly clear that our children will grow into teenagers and adults who want to control their digital identities.
Denial and resistance will blot out this report. People want to believe that what they do with their children they do out of love. But even where you feel love, you should not act out in a way that appropriates another person's autonomy. Think of other things love makes us want to do and that we know we cannot do without permission.

23 comments:

Mark said...

No, it is not surprising.

Years before a single civilian ever had or heard of the Internet, kids did not like their parents showing photos, telling stories, etc. about them.

Laslo Spatula said...

"Think of other things love makes us want to do and that we know we cannot do without permission."

That is why it is important to ask the right questions.

Sometimes you have to accept 'No' as an answer.

Fish in the sea.

I am Laslo.

harrogate said...

One of the reasons so many people post so many pictures of their children is that families are so far flung . Grandparents like seeing these pictures . Aunts , Uncles , Etc. Totally understandable and nothing wrong with it in my view .

The issue of posting pictures of tantrum-throwing kids or venting frustration with arguments over laundry and the like ? I understand the pushback against that a little more, but that's just reflecting a broader change in how we socialize. We don't just complain about our kids over drinks or on playgrounds anymore . Social media led us to a new way to do what we always were already doing anyways .

Laslo Spatula said...

Akin to Internet Rule 34: if you have published a photo of your daughter on the Internet someone, somewhere, has masturbated to it.

Something to keep in mind.

I am Laslo.

Robert Cook said...

I have a friend who has always posted photos and videos of his child on social media, and I have always asked him if he were not concerned at pedophiles seeing these images and possibly targeting his child for kidnap. It's a remote concern, I admit, but it is a concern, and probably not as remote as any of us would like to think. After all, an alert person could determine, through comments my friend has made and by looking for geographical landmarks in the photos, where he and his family reside. He has always shrugged off my queries as of no matter. So far, thankfully, he has been proven right in his unconcern, and I have been shown to be too alarmist. However, I still wouldn't do it. (This is not to do with the reasons children themselves may prefer not to have their images posted all over the internet by their parents, but it is a reason parents should be more cautious. If they want to share images of their kids, they can mail prints, send jpegs by email, post jpegs in shared folders on Drop Box, where only specific people have permission to open the shared folder, etc.)

JSD said...

For older generations, childhood memories are sketchy fragments that can be so real and evocative. After school pizza parlor, swim practice, bike rides, first girlfriend. There is the occasional photograph, but those were quite rare. Mostly just an unreliable self-made narrative of feelings and impressions. Today’s digital world supplants everything. It probably sucks to have all your childhood events quashed by crappy image on a two inch screen.

rcocean said...

Yes, when i was 15 i would have hated to have all those "baby pictures" online, not to mention all those "cute photos" of me doing this or that.

How embarrassing.

But when I got to be 30, let alone 50, I'd love that all those photos and videos were there.

David said...

" children will grow into teenagers and adults who want to control their digital identities."

They prefer to make themselves look foolish rather than have others do it. It's a step towards responsibility.

David said...

I am a sparse Facebook user. I do post the occasional photo of me with my adult kids when we were much younger. The photos I use portray everyone in a good light. They are well received.

Ann Althouse said...

It's one thing if your Facebook page is limited to other members of the family. That's more like mailing photographs.

Earnest Prole said...

Funny, I always thought “appropriating a child’s autonomy” was the very definition of being a good parent. Children have no difficulty thinking of themselves as little kings.

Freeman Hunt said...

When they get to be about five or six, I ask them first.

ALP said...

A related issue: before social media, if your high school years sucked, you could make a clean break by going away to college. Start fresh. Now all your high school crap follows you around...no getting rid of it.

rhhardin said...

I have over 50,000 Doberman pictures on flickr. So far there have been no problems.

coupe said...

It has a bit of voyeur feel to it. There's this one lady who blogs, and I am drawn to it because she always has photo's of her daughter and her friends.

I've been reading it for years, and the daughter is like 31 now. By voyeur I don't mean sexually interesting, but I seem to know more about her than I think I should.

It's like I'm looking over the fence, and I don't think it's fair to the daughter, but I can't stop looking. Now don't misunderstand, the daughter and her friends are not babes, they are just normal people with active lives.

Freeman Hunt said...

And kid-related posts go only to a subset of "friends."

Rhythm and Balls said...

Completely agreed. And the fact that parents don't see this would be surprising to me if the well-advertised and almost unavoidable narcissism of the enterprise weren't so overpowering.

Do parents ever try to make kids feel understood, even? I would bet this is rarer than a waterfall stopping.

harrogate said...

AA:

Absolutely . I think a lot of people do limit their posts of pictures of children to where family members can see it . But not all.

Earnest Prole said...

Facebook photos of children are simply another way of telling them “you are part of a community that existed before you were born and without which you would not exist; you will need to accept that community and adjust your actions to meet its expectations.”

MayBee said...

I don't mind pictures.

What I find gross is when people post about their kids' report cards, or list all of their college acceptances. Some of my friends are still posting about their kids grades, even though the kids are in college. Give it up, friends.

n.n said...

Great. Rational and reasonable were the first victims. We are destined to wander from one real and imagined extreme to another ad infinitum.

rcommal said...

Awesome, you guys. I agree, folks. But I would also say this: Don't bitch about your parents, young 'uns, online, either. That whole reaping-sowing thing works/cuts both ways, and be very careful about the choices that you make, as well. We all are people, individual persons even, aren't we? From birth to death, if not from start to finish. It's easy to thoughtlessly choose "me" at any given second. It's hard to give your best, as best as you can, from the start, to raise a fiercely loved person--whom you brought into the world--specifically to leave, grow up, go away, create a life of his or her own ... and so on.

Etc.

rcommal said...

I've been saying this on the blog for at least 10 years.

Yes, you have, and I acknowledge and respect that (and not only that, but remember!). On the other hand, it's not as if you even had to consider such a thing back when your first kid [name redacted] was born back [the specific date-reference redacted] decades years ago and therefore named with reference to [reference redacted] something.

On yet another hand, let's be clear: There's no way that I could know to what I was referring in all of that redacted stuff in the previous paragraph had I not read your blog from almost the very start of it, Ann Althouse.

--

Q: When is it most easy to lecture other people about the choices they make?

A: When those choices weren't even available to make when you were in their situation[s], a.k.a. cheap purity.