I feel like the first thing babies see is the back of their mother’s iPhone case.
I take a lot of pictures of my kids with my phone. It’s always with me, it’s quick, it’s easy and takes less than a second to share it with all my friends on Facebook.
Max knows this. And being a natural clown, when he takes a particularly hilarious picture he says to me, “You have GOT to put that on Facebook!”
Of course, my 6 year old does not have a Facebook account, or a Twitter account or any other social media presence. But he knows I have one, and he knows he’s on it.
I brought out my phone to take a picture of Max holding his new baby brother. “Don’t mom,” he said, “Don’t put it on Facebook.” I promised I wouldn’t and I asked him why. “I don’t know,” he said after his signature thoughtful pause. “I just think some things are private.”
For a moment I was stunned.
He’s right though; some things are private and some things are better left unshared; at only 6 he’s developing a sense of what for him is public and what should remain private. There are a handful of adults who clearly have not grasped this concept.
I find the differences in generations particularly fascinating, and I’ve read what little has been said about life for kids of Gen X and Gen Y. When it comes to social media, the general consensus seems to be that the upcoming generation will be a little too “plugged in”
If that is the case, then it will be entirely our fault.
Our children will grow up with their first pictures on the internet for the world to see (and some of them will have pictures of their actual birth recorded via social media) through no choice of their own. And I think we assume that the over sharing will continue.
But I wonder if things might be different.
The pictures Max is okay with sharing seem to be creating a rather silly persona. I would hope that he would want to share what is meaningful, rather than just what is funny or what he thinks is cool, but he is only 6. While it might seem silly, he’s clearly grasping a concept of his social media presence and he is already trying to control what that says about him.
On the other hand, growing up with your embarrassing stories and pictures posted on the internet for all the world to see might create a bit of a privacy backlash. At the very least, maybe they’ll understand what it’s for, or how to use it, where our generation has just become drunk with the power to broadcast every thought and image we have (from the awkward and private to utterly inane) to the world.
At least that’s my hope.
For now, I will ask him before I post pictures of him on Facebook, or the blog for that matter. Expect only pictures of him being creatively dressed and making various kinds of faces or showing off drawings and art projects– and no darling pictures of him holding his baby brother for the first time. Those more intimate moments, however beautiful, are private.