The Right to Privacy for Children Online

Excerpt from this article:

…We, too, are using our children on the Internet to burnish our personal brands, from the C.E.O. who wants to let everyone know she still takes the time to attend her child’s piano recital to the stay-at-home caregiver wanting recognition for his exhausting work.

The 5-year-old clearly cannot approve with full understanding the uploading of these images, just as the only way Blue Ivy can refuse to endorse her mother’s marketing campaign is by throwing a temper tantrum. We have strict child labor laws, and I am certain that any applicable ones were upheld during Blue Ivy’s cameo. (I also imagine that she had fun.)

Social media sites typically attempt to ban users under 13, and the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule is designed to safeguard children when they use the Internet.

But there are no specific restrictions concerning what parents share about their own children, though the national police in France — a country we have historically thought of as more laissez-faire than us regarding just about everything — recently posted a message on Facebook warning parents that sharing photos of their children is unsafe.

While love for and from a child is absolutely something to be cherished and celebrated, it may also explain why children are such perfect props for online self-promotion. If someone were to post daily pictures of and stories about his spouse, he would soon find himself without any virtual friends.

Yet children get a pass, not only because they are, as ever, symbols of purity, but also because they are still unspoiled by digital technology, unable to use it themselves with much proficiency. As Rousseauian innocents of the Internet age, they aren’t susceptible to the vapidity, solipsism and toxicity the rest of us have been sullied by.

To integrate a child into a Twitter post or Instagram picture, then, is to acknowledge a deeply intimate connection we have to a world untouched by these corrupting media platforms, to signal to others that when we put down the phone or close the computer, there exists a human being whose life is wholly dependent on us, who wants to hear a bedtime story rather than another hot take on the latest scandal, who loves us not for how many followers we boast but for the tender, sacrificial care we give them.

And yet we use a cold piece of machinery to affirm that warm human sentiment.

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The Grotesque, Mesmerizing Weirdness of #DentistSelfies

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It’s unclear when dentist selfies started, but once you begin looking for them (if you’re not the squeamish sort), you find them almost everywhere. We’d like to think it started with Kim Kardashian and Weird Al Yankovic, both of whom tweeted pictures of themselves in dental chairs seven years ago. Celebrities from Brooke Shields to Lady Gaga have followed suit, and even Martha Stewart got in on it, offering a play-by-play of her crown replacement in a blog post.

Kim Brinkley, a dental assistant in Dallas, says people are forever snapping selfies. Sometimes they pose with props, like the cheesy “I Love My Dentist” hanging in one examination room. “They’re excited to show their friends and family, ‘Oh look, I’m getting ready to get my tooth fixed,’” she says.

Things got so crazy that Brinkley’s office had to institute a strict “no selfies during procedures” rule last year because people randomly snap a pic even as the dentists do their thing. It’s annoying, she says, and dangerous to boot. “The doctor and assistant have to be in a certain position, and if you raise your arm up to get a picture or video you could hit one of us,” she says. “And we’re up in your mouth with tools.”

Removing my children from the Internet

New Yorker Ultrasound Share

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About a week ago I began deleting all photos and videos of my children from the Internet. This is proving to be no easy task. Like many parents, I’ve excitedly shared virtually every step, misstep and milestone that myself and my children have muddled our way through.

This is not only about privacy, it’s also about your child’s identity. We are human beings, not amoebas. How would you like it if your mother and father were in charge of your social media presence? That’s what you’re doing to your children.

And that brings us to my tipping point, Amy Webb’s article on Slate, in which she shares the story of “Kate” and her share-happy parents:

With every status update, YouTube video, and birthday blog post, Kate’s parents are preventing her from any hope of future anonymity.

That poses some obvious challenges for Kate’s future self. It’s hard enough to get through puberty. Why make hundreds of embarrassing, searchable photos freely available to her prospective homecoming dates? If Kate’s mother writes about a negative parenting experience, could that affect her ability to get into a good college? We know that admissions counselors review Facebook profiles and a host of other websites and networks in order to make their decisions.

 

Don’t Post About Me on Social Media, Children Say

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With the first babies of Facebook (which started in 2004) not yet in their teens and the stylish kids of Instagram (which started in 2010) barely in elementary school, families are just beginning to explore the question of how children feel about the digital record of their earliest years. But as this study, although small, suggests, it’s increasingly clear that our children will grow into teenagers and adults who want to control their digital identities.

“As these children come of age, they’re going to be seeing the digital footprint left in their childhood’s wake,” said Stacey Steinberg, a legal skills professor and associate director of the Center on Children and Families at the University of Florida Levin College of Law. “While most of them will be fine, some might take issue with it.”

Isabella Aijo, 15, a high school sophomore in Natick, Mass., said, “I definitely know people who have parents who post things they wish weren’t out there. There was a girl in my eighth grade class whose mom opened a YouTube account for her in the fourth grade to show off her singing,” she wrote to me in an email. “Finally, on one of the last months of middle school, a peer played the song in class and almost the entire class laughed hysterically over it.”

When parents share those early frustrations, they don’t see themselves as exposing something personal about their children’s lives, but about their own. As a society, says Ms. Steinberg, “we’re going to have to find ways to balance a parent’s right to share their story and a parent’s right to control the upbringing of their child with a child’s right to privacy.

“Parents often intrude on a child’s digital identity, not because they are malicious, but because they haven’t considered the potential reach and the longevity of the digital information that they’re sharing,” said Ms. Steinberg.

 

 

RIP the Selfie: when Prince Harry calls time on a craze, you know it’s well and truly dead

Excerpt from this article, which is subtitled, “The selfie was the great silliness of our time, the trainspotting of the techno age. So take them if you dare – the world is laughing at you”:

Prince Harry called time on the selfie craze this week. When a teenager asked him to pose for one with her in Australia he replied: “No, I hate selfies … I know you’re young, but selfies are bad. Just take a normal photograph.”

Good for Harry – it’s time more people spoke out against this great silliness of our time. The royal repudiation of the selfie followed hot on the heels of a powerful attack on the selfie age by the great historian Simon Schama. Launching what sounds like a fascinating project about the British portrait, Schama ridiculed the idea that the “quick dumbness” of selfies has anything in common with the true art of portraiture. “What we love about selfies and phones is that it’s of the moment,” he said, “but the true object of art is endurance.”

I agree. It is depressing that we’ve turned self-portraiture, the most intense, worrying and neurotic of arts, into a big collective joke. Anyone who can look at their face without anxiety is not looking at their face. The self portrait for Van Gogh and Picasso was a thing of fear and dread: we’ve taken that dread and airbrushed it out of existence. Selfies deny and erase a fundamental human self-consciousness. We are in danger of losing our sense of awkwardness, embarrassment, of being an individual. The selfie is actually an attack on the moral self.

Case Study: Social Savvy Burglar

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Describing himself as a “nerd burglar,” he breaks into a couple’s home while they’re away and sells their stuff on the internet.

The campaign taps into a growing phenomenon of social media-savvy burglars. A 2011 U.K. study by Friedland, a home-security company, found that 78% of ex-burglars admitted to using social media to find targets. More than $16 billion a year is lost in property crimes, according to a 2013 FBI report.

…The story unfolded over eight ads that premiered during the Allstate Sugar Bowl, which aired on ESPN. The infomercial-style spots push an e-commerce site developed by Allstate where people could buy replica items from virtually every room in the Moskal’s home, including a blender, TV, weed wacker and their car. And they’re all at “Mayhemically-reduced” prices — dirt-cheap.

See also this case study video.