What Legacy Are We Leaving Our Children Online?

I feel sorry for a lot of kids these days.  As parents, we think nothing of sharing cute stories about and pictures of our kids all over our social networks.  But some parents also feel comfortable complaining about their kids…sharing all the things they do that make their parents crazy.  These are things that parents from the beginning of time have complained to other parents about.  It makes us all feel slightly better about our parenting skills.  But never before have these conversations been quite so visible or permanent.

Because everything we post online has the potential to stay there.  Permanently.

So now let’s fast forward 20 years.  Your child is trying to get a job.  That employer does the standard search online to find out more about your child.  And what surfaces are all those comments you made about how irresponsible your child is, how he drives you crazy, what a slob she is.  Standard kid stuff.  But how can that employer be sure your child has grown out of that stuff?

It feels a bit like we’re stacking the cards against our kids.  If that job has two equally qualified candidates, and one person has nothing but stellar online content, and the other has her mother complaining about her behavior, which one is the employer more likely to select?

When it comes to our conversation about our kids online, I think we need to use more discretion.  What we share simply to amuse our friends could really hinder our kids’ futures.

Your thoughts?

Image Credit: sdminor81

10 Responses to What Legacy Are We Leaving Our Children Online?
  1. Gwen
    February 23, 2011 | 7:58 am

    I confess, I am the step mom of a hateful spitefull step son who is now almost 19 and I griped about him on my facebook page the last year and a half he lived here- it was about finding validation from other moms raising horrible teen sons. I am sorry I did it after reading your article, but there is nothing now that I can do, I didn’t lie about his actions but I do get your point. Thank you for sharing. There is nothing harder than being a mother, a wife but being a step mom is some of the worst stress a mother can have. And moving to where you know “no one” doesn’t help so I turned to my facebook friends and family for ideas and support.

  2. Heather Price
    January 16, 2011 | 1:44 am

    interesting thoughts!

    I’ve DEFINITELY mentioned both my kids by name on both facebook and twitter. With facebook I have it set so only friends can see. And actually I’m comfortable saying quite a bit about my kids because of that. With twitter, there’s not a WHOLE lot I can say in 140 characters but I guess it doesn’t even connect their first names to our last name because if you google my son who has a very unusual name, none of my posts or comments about him come up. My daughter’s name is much more common so there’s pages of stuff but none of it is her as far as I can tell.

    So if I twitter about my son by first name only and my last name is Price you can’t google his first name Price and get anywhere. So I guess sticking to first name only is helpful, as is setting your facebook profile to friends only.

    And yep, I talk about my kids on facebook. Facebook IS my blog. I’m not willing to have a blog about my kids with photos, videos, posts… for the whole world to see. But on facebook, I can put up a note about how frustrated I am about potty training and know that only the people I accept as friends can see it. My life right now is 99% about my kids so that’s what I talk about on facebook. But thank you for the reminder to keep it positive. If I wouldn’t want my kids reading it in the future, it’s not a good idea to post it.

  3. Anne Brook
    January 14, 2011 | 5:06 pm

    Just tried googling my childrens’ names and got as far as my son’s old MySpace page and not even his current FB page. My daughter has discontinued both her MySpace and FB pages and nothing came up on her. Where else does one look to ‘see’ what has been written? Oh, and I am in full agreement with saying negative stuff about the children (as in NOT).

  4. Lorian Rivers
    January 14, 2011 | 1:40 pm

    Thanks for saying it Jenn! Parents share too much online (and off) nowdays! They have their kids pictures, names, birthdates, schools, friends….and then the put the little stickers on the back of the car with the entire family’s name beneath! So the “bad guy” walks up the car where the kids are waiting and says “Suzy, your mom told me to come and get you” and away she goes since he knows her name..it must be true!

  5. Pat Zahn
    January 14, 2011 | 11:18 am

    I don’t understand why people talk that way about their kids, let alone put it in writing… I was standing next to a mom last night who I knew when our high schoolers were in pre-school and I’m not even sure she knew who I was, but she found it necessary to make a disparaging comment about her son’s academics – my daughter noticed and said something to me; all I could do was agree that it wasn’t appropriate.

    Pat Zahn, Photo Solutions Superhero

  6. angie
    January 13, 2011 | 1:31 pm

    Absolutely. But regardless of it being in stone on the internet, parents really ought to think long and hard about what they share about their kids- anywhere! Children deserve the same respect as anyone else.

    • Bridgett
      January 14, 2011 | 4:13 am

      I agree about respect. I don’t understand why some have different standards of respect regarding their significant others and their children. Do unto others–including/especially family.

  7. Kristy Pool
    January 13, 2011 | 11:57 am

    Say it forget it, write it regret it… The internet is like the borg, some sort of collective consciousness. I can find anything I want to know on it, I agree 100%, we have to be very careful about what we add.

  8. Johnna Parr
    January 13, 2011 | 9:25 am

    Thank you for bringing this to the forefront! Every Post, Every Blog, Every Video is here to stay…for EVERYONE to see! Now and in the future ….
    Thanks Jennifer!

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