Online family and over-sharing

I’m not an over-sharer online. I’m careful not to put too many images of my children up on my blog or chat about their personal lives so someone could identify them with anything negative or embarrassing later in life. I wrote here about blogging as a parent and what you should watch out for.

Family archives

That said, though, my kids live a fairly public life thanks to social networking. I blog about them, I share photos of them on Facebook, I tweet about their lives.

Case in point: I have 865 photos on my Facebook. About 864½ of them are of my kids.

Which all got me thinking: will the same privacy concerns that we have now be part of the general psyche in years to come?

We grew up (I say ‘we’: I mean us oldies who grew up in the 70s and 80s) with photo albums: things we shelved and cracked open every now and then to see a picture of great aunt Dolores, or that blurry one of us naked in the bath at age 2. We grew up with camera film: things we had to send away to be developed before we could stick them in our albums. It was rare for our friends to have seen many photos of us. It was even more rare for perfect strangers to have seen them.

Because of that, sharing on social networks is relatively new to us. Some of us have taken to it happily. Our Facebook accounts, while not completely privacy-setting free, are open to our 1000 or so closest friends and we’re ok with them sharing our pics or info with their 1000 or so closest friends.

The rest of us, not so much. We have our privacy settings set so high that even we can’t get into our online accounts on a bad day. We’re overly sensitive about how many people see our personal stuff and horrendously suspicious of exactly how Google is using our search histories.

What will our children be doing?

My children love seeing themselves on a screen. They love hearing that someone has commented on their photo or “liked” it. They especially love seeing how popular a picture of them is.

Growing up as they are with social media as their context, I wonder whether they will be as fretful about privacy as we are now.

It could go either way: perhaps one day, our kids will live a life so open that hardly anything is sacred anymore. They’ll share everything, from what they had for breakfast to where they went out partying. (Oh, wait.) It could be that society becomes like the one imagined by Ben Elton in his novel, Blind Faith, where only perverts don’t share absolutely everything.

It could be that our kids grow so sick of over-sharing that social networking becomes unthinkable and only for outcasts. Maybe it’ll become passé and only those who don’t want to move with the times will share online.

Whichever way it turns, our kids will find out.

For now, have you seen my latest pic of them on Facebook?

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