US parents to keep kids off Facebook

Aug 20 2014, 08:26 IST
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Reasons for the baby blackout vary. Some parents have privacy and safety concerns. Reuters Reasons for the baby blackout vary. Some parents have privacy and safety concerns. Reuters
SummaryBehold the cascade of baby photos, the flood of funny kid anecdotes and the steady stream of school milestones on Facebook.

Behold the cascade of baby photos, the flood of funny kid anecdotes and the steady stream of school milestones on Facebook.

It all makes Sonia Rao, a stay-at-home mother of a 1-year-old in California, ''a little uncomfortable.''

At a time when just about everyone and their mother - father, grandmother and aunt - is intent on publicizing the newest generation's early years on social media sites, an increasing number of U.S. parents like Rao are bucking the trend by consciously keeping their children's photos, names and entire identities off the Internet.

''I just have a vague discomfort having her photograph out there for anyone to look at,'' says Rao. ''When you meet a new person and go to their account, you can look them up, look at photos, videos, know that they are traveling.''

Reasons for the baby blackout vary. Some parents have privacy and safety concerns. Others worry about what companies might do with their child's image and personal data. Some simply do it out of respect for their kids' autonomy before they are old enough to make decisions for themselves.

''I have a no tolerance policy,'' says Scott Steinberg, a Missouri-based business and technology consultant. Steinberg says he shares no photos, videos or any information about his child.

As for Rao, she stays active on Facebook. She's happy posting photos of her dog, but not the many snapshots of her daughter and the pet together -no matter how cute they are. Rao does share baby pictures, via email or text, but only with close friends and family.

Facebook, for its part, encourages parents to use the site's privacy setting if they want to limit who can see baby photos and other posts. It's possible, for example, to create a group of close friends and relatives to share kid updates with. But that's not enough for some users.

New parents Josh Furman and his wife, Alisha Klapholz, are protective of their newborn. The Maryland couple hasn't posted their daughter's legal name on Facebook or photos of her. Instead, they share her Hebrew name and a nickname to use just on Facebook. They ask friends and family to do the same.

A big reason parents are wary, even if they use social media sites themselves, is that the companies ''have not been very transparent about the way they collect data about users,'' says Caroline Knorr, parenting editor at the nonprofit

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