Hijacking Our Kids’ Private Life

“How will the mummy & daddy bloggers affect their child’s career prospects? Prospective Interviewers will know almost everything about their lives through Facebook. What if they want to become a politician or a celebrity?”

This was one of the questions posed to me as a panel speaker at yesterday’s discussion of “Growing Up On Facebook”, one of the events presented by Social Media Week (SMW).

As new parents, we are so proud and delighted at the antics of our children, we pose every picture, word, action, reaction, even non-reaction online. Before they turn five, lots of information about them is readily available in cyberspace.

Facebook user

Most of the status updates and pictures are harmless – cute photos, milestones achieved, and proud accomplishments.  But as they mature and have more connections with the outer world – school, extra-curricular activities, friends on Facebook, I become more conscious of what I do upload about them on Facebook.

What I deemed as adorable and endearing may be embarrassing or mortifying for them (like that lovely toothless smile or that funny incident that happened in school).

I find myself more aware that they are young individuals with a clean slate. And it is not my prerogative to put THEIR lives online for the whole world to see. Privacy, it seems, is going to be a remote commodity for this generation of kids.

Yes, I will continue to share photos of them on Facebook and include them in my blog posts, but the context of these will change. It will be from MY perspective as a parent relating to the child, and the experiences we share on this parent-child journey.

I make it a point these days to inform them of any photos or updates that I post on them.  Like Kelvin, the Daddy Blogger (Cheekiemonkie.net) who was with me on this panel discussion, I try to use these opportunities to guide them on the proper navigation of online conventions. We discuss the number of “likes” on a post, what are their preferences, and sometimes even the way I phrase my posts.

But unlike me, Kelvin is unfazed about his online sharing.

Facebook pics are an evolution of keeping pictures of your kids in your wallet to show off to friends,” he says adding that he uses his blog as an online diary to capture memories for his children. His children are aware when he blogs about their antics and mishaps and they use the blog as their bedtime reading material.

Roshni Mahtani, the founder of Tickled Media, the parent company that manages several online media including theAsianparent and pregnant.sg, and a huge proponent of social media concurs, saying that from an employers’ perspective, she might feel more personable with the prospective employee after reviewing his Facebook page, and that might help with the hiring process.

At this stage, my kids are still young and I doubt if their potential employers will go as far back in history to research them. But I would like to give them an opportunity to paint their canvas as they see fit (with some education and guidance of course) and maybe allow them to own some mystery in their lives.

Whatever path that we parents choose, the internet is going to be a huge part of our children’s lives. How we present them and how we TEACH them to present themselves online is perhaps a more relevant discussion.

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Meiling Wong

Meiling is a Singaporean mom who loves spending time with her 2 kids until they ditch her for slime-making and digital gaming. These days, she keeps herself busy trying to keep up with the social media while still contemplating if she should learn how to play "Clash Royale".

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