Back in 2011, a survey revealed that 66% of Generation X parents (those born in the 1960s and ’70s), said that they post photos of their offspring online, and over half admitted to sharing news of their achievements with their social network.
Aisha Sultan, parenting advice columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, claims that the results may well be different if a new survey were carried out today:“Back (then) there wasn’t a lot of conversation about this. When parents first started joining Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) in large numbers it wasn’t the primary concern. We felt like we were in control of information we were sharing with friends and family.”
Explanations for the shift in attitudes
While some parents worry about the safety of having their child’s identity known to strangers, others are concerned about what companies could do with their personal data and images. Caroline Knorr, parenting editor at the nonprofit Common Sense Media, puts this wariness down to the fact that companies “have not been very transparent about the way they collect data about users.”
Other parents claim that they are simply respecting their child’s autonomy in deciding what online presence they should have. However admirable this may sound, my feeling is that children would benefit from some parental guidance before they work out how to join the ongoing craze for selfies.
Advice from Facebook
Facebook likes to encourage its users to use their privacy settings to restrict who can see selected information on their profiles. Those parents who are worried about the company itself using this information have taken more drastic steps to limit the exposure of their child.
Wasim Ahmad, journalism professor at Stonybrook University, went so far as to create a private website, complete with password, where he could post photos of his son for his family to see.
Parental concerns for the privacy of their children is just one of a number of fronts on which Facebook is fighting a lack of trust from its users. Shareholders will be hoping that no further scandals emerge that could impact the company’s image, and its share price.