As a guy in my mid-thirties, my Facebook feed is filled to the brim with parents posting about what is most important to them: their children. Facebook is, after all, a great tool to socialize, share pictures with family, and stay in contact with people in your lives – even if they didn’t play a huge role in your life. I have plenty of Facebook friends that I was never close to, but I love seeing their updates because they are awesome, interesting people.
And while I usually smile at the adorable pictures of these kids (some of which are a spitting image of a high school classmate I haven’t seen for 15 years!), I also get a sinking feeling in my gut. Parents on Facebook today are ruining any chance that their child has to make choices of their own about their online presence.
Parents: consider the following before posting:
- Anything that gets posted to the internet will be around forever. Let that sink in. It doesn’t matter if you delete your Facebook profile, or remove that embarrassing picture from Instagram. The data is out there, and it has already been replicated across other systems or websites. You are posting something to a permanent public record that will be very easily accessible until the end of time. In fact, as years go by, data storage gets cheaper, and technology will emerge to make historical data more accessible and searchable.
- Your children are going to be real adults one day, facing the same struggles you are facing, but with the added threat of their digital past coming back to haunt them. Respect your children. In the blink of an eye your child will be a young adult in high school, and every classmate will have instant access to all the comments and pictures that were posted by everyone’s parents. Fast-forward to when your child is interviewing for his first real job. Why introduce the unsettling possibility that the employer may have read the posts about the temper tantrums he was fond of throwing as a kid?
Reconsider posting personal details about your child to social networks. If that is absolutely not an option for you, at least be sure your Facebook privacy settings have been modified to restrict your posts to friends and family. And although this should go without saying, do not post something that will be embarrassing for the child 20 years later.
I grew up in an age before the internet. When MySpace rolled out, I was 24 years old. I was given the luxury of choice when it came to building my online presence. I opted to be very public in almost all aspects of my online life, but that was my own adult decision. Everyone should have the same choice.