As a millennial, I have never grown up in a world where there wasn’t the internet or computers. I got my first “flip phone” when I was 17 (which I had to buy myself) and it wasn’t until I was 20 that Facebook really started to take off as a social media platform. As a result, people could share pictures, thoughts and connect with others online in a way they never could before. It was the beginning of the social media era and the time when people started to develop an online presence and identity that they shared with others.
Today, many kids have an online presence even before they are born. So is sharing pictures and information online about our kids unfair to them? At what age should children be able to choose what can or can’t be posted about them online? The article Posting About Your Kids Online Damage Their Futures points out that “parents are already some of the biggest violators of their kids’ privacy leaving potentially harmful digital footprints well before the age of consent”. It discusses the risks of identity theft, humiliation and future discrimination that can occur as a result of the digital footprints children’s parents have created. In the video Are Parents Exploiting Their Kids On Social Media the phenomenon of “sharenting” and its lasting impact is explored.
As educators, we also have to examine how we share student work and information about our students online with the public. When you compound the information parents are posting with the data schools collect and post, do children really have any privacy online today? Are we being fair or unfair when we share student content on online platforms such as SeeSaw or Twitter? During Tuesday’s EC&I 830 class Altan and Melinda demonstrated why sharing and openness in schools is unfair to children.
After having the opportunity to explore both sides of this topic, as an educator I do not feel that it is unfair to students to be open and share educational material. I agree with Sherri that being open and sharing material online can provide deep and meaningful learning opportunities for students. I think it is important as educators we use the social media platforms as a way to help students build digital citizenship and help them learn how to safely navigate the online world. Amanda posts a great list of ways to protect students privacy online in her blog post, Is it Fair to Share?
In conclusion, I think that parents should be mindful what they post about their kids online, the same way they are thoughtful about what they post online about themselves as adults. I don’t believe that social media will be disappearing anytime soon, but through thoughtful and constructive conversations parents and teachers can work together to help educate children in how to ultimately build a positive and safe online profile for themselves.