My son’s generation is turning out to be the most documented generation in history. Our family is no exception to the trend. We have 3 devices in our home capable of taking pictures and two that can take video. This content is then posted to various locations on the internet: photo sharing websites, Facebook posts, etc. When our son isn’t being documented via photo or video, we’re talking about him via Facebook, Twitter, email, this blog. Then, there’s the fact that my husband backs up most of this content on 3 different locations, “just in case”. When he grows up, my son will be able to relive his childhood whenever he wants. The downside, of course, is that my son will grow up already having a more public face than I ever did. And there’s a significant risk of violating his privacy.
Thanks to my tech savvy husband, we are pretty aware of the risk to our son’s privacy. We are very discerning with regards to the pictures we post (when we post them at all), and we are careful not to make them public. I will never post pictures of my son on this blog, for example, until he is able to understand the implications and give me permission to do so. Not all parents take such a hard line, but I feel like it’s something I need to do. If I want other people to respect my son’s privacy, I need to make it a priority myself.
Still, there’s always the chance that something will slip through the cracks. We’ve got identity theft alerts set up for the whole family, just in case. And even though we do our best to protect his public identity, eventually he will want to venture onto the World Wide Web himself, much earlier than I did as a child. Our son is not even out of diapers, and we are already having conversations about how we will teach him to behave responsibly on the Internet.
Of course, society will change to accommodate our newfound publicity. Many browsers already offer secure search, and online security should (hopefully) increase with time. There will eventually be laws dictating what types of information schools, employers, and governments can or cannot use when making decisions with regard to hiring or admissions. As in, if you make a really terrible decision at a middle school party, they can’t/shouldn’t be able to use the evidence against you. Even so, it seriously freaks me out that one day I’m going to have to have a conversation with my son about sexting. As if alcohol, drugs, guns, and girls weren’t enough.
Well, I guess we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it. I’ll just have to enjoy the innocence while it lasts.