Sunday, July 22, 2012

Taking risks without repercussions

With one of my children just finished university this summer, and another about to start, I've thought a lot about keeping in touch with my children online. During the 3 years my son has been away our most common form of contact has been through Skype, email, WhatsAp and Dropbox. We've also intermittently connected via Twitter and through our blogs. We are not connected through Facebook. I believe my son is a responsible person and that he's not posting inappropriate things there and that he keeps an eye on his digital reputation. I'm wondering how I will keep in touch with my daughter once she has left home. I imagine we'll Skype and email. In contrast with my son, her Facebook account is open to the world. Is this a good idea, I'm wondering? Clearly she seems to think that everything she posts there is appropriate for anyone to see. However, while she may be responsible in what she posts, I'm concerned about the things others may post about her or tag her in.

For most young people university is a place where they can experiment and find out who they are. They can make mistakes and learn from these mistakes. However these mistakes are now often very visible, shared with everyone that they know and also with complete strangers.  The everlasting  repercussions of these mistakes, which are stored online indefinitely, can come back to haunt them many years later.  Young people are often thoughtless about what they post - a photo or a comment added on the spur of the moment, because it's funny at the time perhaps, can also be downloaded just as quickly and so can have long-term consequences for themselves and their friends.  I'm hoping that as a parent I've had enough of these conversations with my daughter.  I'm hoping that she places value on being a good and responsible digital citizen and has a good understanding of the fact that when you post something online you are giving up control of it forever.

Ideas in this post from LOL...OMG by Matt Ivester
Photo Credit:  Chaos by Brett Weinstein, 2007  AttributionShare Alike

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