Would You Try a ‘Baby Blackout’?
On any given day, my Facebook news feed is a mix of the mundane (friends checking in at restaurants), the cryptic (screen shots of inspirational messages), the trendy (ice bucket challenge videos), and the tragic (mourning the loss of journalist James Foley).
Oh yeah, and lots and lots of babies. My nearest and dearest are diligent about recording every moment of their children’s lives and posting them all online. As much as I enjoy watching their kiddos grow up, I have no intention of reciprocating with pictures of my own son. Other than a few shots from three years ago, my social media accounts are purposely baby-free.
Turns out, I’m not the only one whose wall is missing posts about the family. As the AP reports, more parents are making efforts to keep their baby’s photos, name, and identity offline as part of a growing movement called “baby blackout.” The reasons why some moms and dads are consciously uncoupling from social media are varied: Many are concerned about privacy and safety breaches, while some are uneasy about what sites like Facebook and Instagram — or their users — could do with all that personal information. Still others believe in holding off creating an online footprint until their child is old enough to consent to it.
But baby blackouts are still the exception, not the rule. According to a 2011 study cited in the article, a whopping 66 percent of Gen X parents said they upload photos of their kiddos, while more than 50 percent said they spread the word about their child’s accomplishments over social media. And hey, I get it: posting something on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram is fast, efficient, and fun to boot. It’s a way to bridge the miles between you and distant friends and family.
Still, I’m firmly in the blackout camp. I’ve been working in the digital space for years now and if I’ve learned anything, it’s that the stuff we put online doesn’t vanish easily. Even though sites like Facebook let you determine privacy settings to an extent, they’re also notorious for changing those settings without much notice, leaving previously protected content open for all the world to see. They’re also less than open about how they’re collecting and using our data, which makes me more than a little uncomfortable. While it’s not the end of the world if a friend of a friend stumbles across a photo of my child at soccer practice, why would I run the risk of it ending up in the wrong hands? My son has the rest of his life to create an online footprint — for now, I’m content keeping him unplugged.
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