Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Facebook - Posting pictures of your kids?

In the last few months I have become completely interested in the social computing phenonmenon due to (a) the value to and potential impact on (b) both my personal AND work life given (c) the now *limited work effort* needed by participants like me in updating twitter and facebook. Perhaps I just teed up the theme for another blog posting b/c when I started to type this one, I meant to speak only to a recent debate with my wife about posting pix of our kids on my Facebook account......so let me get back to that.

Many very rational adults with children (some friends of my wife and I) are worried about posting pics of their kids on the their Facebook account or other semi-public web outlets. Typically their reason is due to pedophiles being online and the risks associated with that. I happen to think this is a logical and sufficient answer and don't question anyone's judgment or philosophy around choosing to not put pics of their children on the web.

However, I am choosing a different path and think it makes sense to articulate the reasons. Perhaps after going back and reading this in a few weeks or months, I will change my position. I see a convalesence of 3 things that make me ok with posting pics of my children on my facebook account.

First, as mentioned in the first paragraph of this post, social networking (particularly Facebook and Twitter) has made it easy to post to the web.....even this blog is a little difficult for me to keep up b/c it has to be thought out and takes time, however in the fbook/twitter world, micro-blogging is the buzzword. Micro-blogging is all about very short updates (140 characters of text) and grainy pictures from your cell phone camera. In other words, there is no expectation of quality with posts to fbook and twitter.....its James Joyce meets the internet - stream of consciousness at its finest.

Second, if I had more time in my life, I would do a much better job at documenting my personal and family history. I would take the hours and hours of video tape I've bee taking since my first child was born in 2000 and put it on a computer so I could easily view it when interested. I would also like to take the documentation of some of my family history that I have been eliciting from my mother and father over the last few years and put it in a very accessible place, as opposed to buried in a Word document on the hard drive of my laptop. Point is, this is interesting to me. In this too-busy world of mine, I spend far too little time on this kind of activity and that is something I've wanted to change for a long time. Facebook, particularly the mobile photos, gives me a new and interesting way to document moments in our family that are some small part of our overall history. I am able to do this with no material investment of time, simply as part of the various activities done with my family each and every day. In other words, this aspect of social computing has allowed me to become closer to the family chronicler I've always wanted to be, within the constraints of my busy life.

Third, and perhaps most importantly, I am confident this generation of kids will live their lives in the open view of the internet on sites like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and who knows what's next. IMHO, privacy is dead in our world. This is unfortunate in many respects, but regardless, I believe it is a reality we all need to deal with at some point - on our own terms or the world's. Our kids will be out there on facebook and I hope they learn sooner rather than later, and without paying too harsh a price, that putting certain content in public view on the internet is not a good idea. Job recruiters have been talking for a while now that they immediately check out potential employees' facebook accounts prior to hiring. Our kids will need guidance from us in this, just as they need leadership and discipline from us in every other aspect of life. If my generation (approaching 40 quickly) doesn't use and truly understand what's going on in Facebook, how can we provide this guidance. Yes, I have pics of my kids on Facebook right now - my oldest will be 9 very soon. In a few short years, she will have her own Facebook account. My little girl and at some point all her siblings will be out there in the cold, cruel world that is the internet. My job is to prepare them for life and the internet will be a big part of it. I want to really know what is going on there and am immersing myself in the online world to do that.

Based on the pics of my kids on my facebook account and the other stuff I see on the 'net, it does not feel like I am creating risk, over and above what they face every day, of exposing them to pedophiles. And that risk does not outweigh the benefit of learning what goes on in Facebook and the similar online sites. If that changes, I will certainly re-think that position.

Part of the reason I haven't posted to my blog very much is the need I have to write something that will last and really think about it and didn't have the time to do all of that. However, I am starting to consider changing that. Previously, I would have really had to think about the post above and proof read it 5 times and shaped it over a few weeks. I'm done with that approach now.....the online world is moving too fast and I need to adapt to get my thoughts online. I have hit my time limit on how much I wanted to invest in this post. If something needs to change in this article, I will make the changes and re-post. Ha! the beauty of the online medium!!


Matthew Dillard said...

Nice article. good work. now update that profile. we need to catch up at "the office" again soon.

Justin Hart said...

I think the risks exist but there are decent safeguards against any serious danger... Still, with a teenager in the house I recognize that immediate risks are no longer around pictures... :)