ControverSunday: Digital Privacy

Happy Sunday all! Welcome to our now monthly installment of ControverSunday. Novembers topic? Digital Privacy! Yeah!

This topic was suggested by Ginger over at Ramble Ramble and Noddleknobs and essentially, the question is whether or not one is able to have digital privacy for their children (or themselves). With the prevalence of Facebooks and blogs and twitter, ect… many of our kids have an online presense before they are 2 years old. What will this mean for our kids growing up in this environment

Want to join us in talking about this topic? Awesome. Go over to Accidents and grab the badge. Write up your post ASAP (cause we are all trying really really hard to post on time on Sunday) and then come back hear to provide a link. Voila. You are then a part of the official ControverSunday team.


Check out these other awesome ControverSunday posts!

Ramble Ramble

The Arbolog

Tortoise on the Loose

The Cheeseblog

Now your in the world

Our lady of perpetual bread crumbs

Accidents will happen

Okay, now for the topic at hand. Wow is this a big one. I mean, really truly, this could be like 10 posts. Or one 5000 word post. I promise I won’t to that to you.

So I am going to try and narrow the discussion to what I think about the most regarding this subject. But I will say quite honestly, I am a bit torn on this issue. I really do see both sides and I don’t know what to do. To give some background… my ‘ground rules’ for Audrey’s digital presence are as follows:

a) Facebook: pretty fair game. There is a lot of info about Audrey on Facebook, but both my husband and I have pretty strict privacy settings. And we are not the type to have every ‘acquaintance’ as a ‘friend’ on facebook. People we actually know only.

b) Twitter, Blog: I try to just share my first name and Audrey’s first name. I haven’t mentioned my husbands first name. And I don’t like to share pictures. (As much I really want to sometimes, you know, being a proud mama and all. Plus, my kid is really cute.) But I find over time I become more and more laid back about this too.

Which leads me into my first point of discussion:

1) It ain’t going away

Let’s be honest, people are often anxious about new technology and new ways of communicating. Anxiety usually turns to fear and a bit of paranoia. But if we are realistic, social media is not going away. And social media makes our lives very public. Sure, it is possible to not have Facebook, not have Twitter, not be on Linkedin, not be online. But you may still have an online presence. Many places put names and e-mail addresses for their staff on their websites. Or you might have been in attendance at a meeting that published their meeting minutes to the internet. Or a friend might mention you on Facebook, maybe even put up a picture. Most people can be found with 5 minutes, an internet connection, and a search engine. Or someone might hack into a company or (even worse) your bank’s computer system and have access to a lot of information on you. So do we need to be aware of this and watching for signs of identity theft? Yes. But can we ever prevent or control everything that goes on the internet related to us? No.

So I think it is kinda naive and futile to try and stem the tide of the reality of our world being digital. The world is digital. Now we need to find a way to manage that.

2) My kid doesn’t have a say right now

On the other hand. When it comes to my kid what I think about and question is if I have a right to put her life online. I write this blog, so to some extent I think the answer to that question is yes. But I do think there is a very big responsibility there for me to protect and guard my child’s online image. I do think, when I write something, if it is something that is appropriate to share with the world or not. It is not just about if something might embarrass her when she is older (really, how different is that from sharing embarrassing pictures at her wedding or something). It is more about what do I have the right to share and what is private and hers to decide what to share. As she gets older, I suspect I will be asking that more and more. Really. Her image, her information, her story is hers, not mine. And she can’t tell me right now what her thoughts are about my sharing them. I write this blog anyway. But not without being aware of this issue and reflecting on it as I write.

3) It’s all about awareness and management

In the end, I really think it is all about awareness and managing your own (or your children… until they are old enough to manage their own) image. Having a digital presence? That is inevitable. So rather then my digital presence being dictated by someone else, I want to manage my own. I want to be out there being who I am. And when Audrey is old enough, she can be out there being who she is. But I am going to work to talk with her and educate her about implications. To make sure she keeps her digital image clean. She can be real, but we will talk about long term implications for her career if she puts up pictures of herself at a party or bad mouths her boss, for example. As well as how people treat each other online and what is not appropriate (online bullying for example). And about how to stay safe by not sharing too much personal information to protect against identity theft or having a stalker be able to determine her whereabouts.

That being said, I think by the time she is a young adult, the world is going to be more accepting of people living their real lives online. I know there are stories now of people getting fired or not hired because of something their boss or the recruiter found on Facebook. But really, if they won’t hire you because you have a picture of being drunk at a party? What young person hasn’t been drunk at a party? Who hasn’t disliked a boss they had at some point in their career? Yes, we need to be aware of what we say online, but more and more I think people will realize that everyone has skeletons in their closets, whether they put them on Facebook or not.

So what does this mean for Audrey growing up with a digital presence. It means she is going to live in a very different world. It means it is incumbent on myself and my husband to help her learn about what that means. And it means I am going to try to not close myself off to these new forms of technology and communication as I hear some people doing. Because how can I help Audrey learn the implications if I don’t understand what is happening myself?

Okay. Now it’s your turn. Tell me what you think.

14 responses to “ControverSunday: Digital Privacy

  1. Cheryl November 7, 2010 at 9:40 am

    I completely agree with the last statement that you won’t be equipped to help Audrey figure these things out if you aren’t familiar. You will be able to share with her the consequences of putting things out there that you can’t take back.

    I also agree that it’s important to realize that she doesn’t have a say right now. I have posted many pictures of B on Facebook (and ensure that only friends can see them) but I’d like to think none will mortify him later in life! I have seen more than one picture of a peeing toddler and thought, are you ready to explain this in a few years? lol

    Before I ramble too much, let me just say I get tired of people blaming the internet and the big, bad websites for their perceived loss of privacy. You have to mange it yourself, don’t expect Facebook to do it for you!

  2. Mama Tortoise November 7, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    I like your point about how we are forced as parents to manage our kids’ identity now because they are young. Parents have been doing this long before the internet – sending photos in Christmas cards, keeping family secrets or sharing them with a community, etc. Just because we’ve moved these issues to the Internet doesn’t mean that they are new issues.

    Thanks again for hosting! Here’s the link to my response:


    • amoment2think November 9, 2010 at 6:37 pm

      I like your point Laura, about how these are not new issues, just ones we have moved onto the internet. I think sometimes when we are faced with new technology we think every issue is *New*, but really it is not. The scale is just different.

  3. clara November 7, 2010 at 3:10 pm

    I just hit publish on my own post and now am reading everyone else’s. Everyone else who, so far, has said the same thing I did. Right down to your use of “skeletons in the closet,” a phrase I used in my own post.

    I like the concept of all posting on the same day, though. It makes it more…festive somehow.

    Some great points in your post – I also find it fascinating that we all fear the “new” so much when it’s usually just the “different.”

    Embrace the different!

    Here’s mine:

  4. Megan November 7, 2010 at 6:45 pm

    I made it!

    I love your point about helping Audrey learn to manage her own online presence as she gets older. It is very true that our world is changing in such a way that we have to teach our kids to handle this thing we never even considered growing up.

    I can’t wait to read all the other posts, but it is Sunday, after all. I need to go hang out with my family. Mostly so I can get some material for my blog. Ha!

  5. Perpetua November 7, 2010 at 7:11 pm

    I did it! I’ll be back to read through everyone else’s posts tomorrow. Right now, this time change is kicking my butt.

  6. Pingback: ControverSunday: Digital Privacy. « Accidents will happen.

  7. Accidents November 7, 2010 at 8:58 pm

    Here is mine. Not great, but serviceable. And on time! I wasn’t about to let you down.

  8. Jen November 8, 2010 at 10:45 am

    You already linked to mine, but…. it’s the Arbolog, not the Arblog as you’ve got listed in that text up there. Just saying.

    I find it interesting that we are all more or less on the same page!

    When is the next topic announced?

  9. Pingback: ControverSunday Topic December 4th: Oh the holidays! « amoment2think

  10. Brooke November 8, 2010 at 3:04 pm

    Kellen’s birth was front page news statewide. Pretty much he lost his privacy the day my house burned down. It’s not just digital media. The Elizabeth Smart case started, and I was just reading the mother’s testimony about hiring the man who abducted her. That action put the family at far greater risk, in my opinion, than sharing my son’s potty training failure on a blog.

    With that said, I am better about watermarking my photos because I’ve seen some sickening things happen with people claiming pictures of others’ kids as their own.

  11. Ginger November 8, 2010 at 10:43 pm

    So, I’m finally making my way around to comment on everyone’s posts, and I find it funny that we all seem to have similar things to say. Which, given that we’re all blogging friends, perhaps isn’t that odd?

    You also reminded me of something I meant to mention which is this: I’m going to have to make a point to stay on top of NEW technologies so that we can know what’s going on. I remember when Facebook came out and a lot of people I knew (myself included) were rather dismissive. “Ah, it’s just for kids”. As a parent now, I don’t have the luxury of dismissing new technologies that my kid may or may not want to have a presence on.

    And now I’m tired just thinking of that.

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