Social Media and the Next Generation

I’ve been thinking a lot about social media and online identities lately. Some are extremely cautious about what they put online while others let it all hang out. As long as an individual is comfortable with their level of sharing both strategies are fine, but what happens when the individual is sharing more than their life or even their friend’s lives?

Today’s 20-somethings have been participating in social networks since they were pre-teens. But now they are growing up, getting married, divorced, having children… My question is what type of effect will all this sharing have on Gen-Y’s children?

People in my parent’s generation never had the opportunity to share hospital pictures of newborns online or post videos of baby’s first steps. In fact, many are still cautious of social networks, afraid of stalkers and sharing too much with the online world. In contrast, Gen-Y anxiously posts their new relationship status and shares their children’s lives with the world.

One girl I went to high school with actually changed her Facebook status to reflect how far along she was in the birthing process. First, I don’t even know how you can think about updating your Facebook status when you’re in labor. Second, no one needs or wants to know that you’re five centimeters dilated. But I digress…

How will our children feel about all the funny photos and videos we post when they are infants, toddlers, teenagers? For some, it could be like sharing their entire diary with the world. Others might not care at all.

If I had to guess, I imagine most children will be fine with our sharing habits. After all, they are growing up in a world where it’s normal to share your life online. Still, I wonder how many will be embarrassed by photos, or upset by seeing their parent’s friends comment on their divorce. Are there any rules? Any social guidelines?

If anyone has expertise on this issue please leave a comment. I haven’t found any articles written on the subject and would love to learn more. What’s your take?


What an interesting question! I personally tend to lean towards the share less philosophy so have many times had to send a friend a message to delete an unsavory picture or have myself deleted someone's comment bc I thought it reflect poorly on me.
To answer your question...I overall agree with you that our kids won't know anything different so being embarrassed that their just being born picture was posted for the world to see won't really matter. Maybe it will result in a higher self-confidence overall in coming generations..."this is me! take it or leave it!"...
I see lots of research in the future regarding this question.

Thanks for the thought provoking post, Sarah!

August 6, 2009 at 9:47 AM  

Yes, I think our kids won't know anything different. They will have been habituated to the world where almost everything is shared online. Plus, all of their other friends will be in the same boat, so I would be curious if the kid who doesn't have a lot of things will be the odd person out. What do you think?

August 6, 2009 at 2:33 PM  

Interesting how something that is inherently so impersonal as a digital connection, elicits the ironic effect of hyper-personal sharing. People still don't want to talk to each other face to face, but they will gladly bare their soul to the internet masses. Great Post.

August 7, 2009 at 2:54 PM  

Emily - Thanks for the comment. As I've entered the professional world I've tried to be more conscious of my online presence. While I normally don't untag myself in photos, I do put people into certain categories. Only people who are truly my friends can see my photos.

Marcos - That's a really interesting thought. I imagine it will be similar to younger children not having as many baby pictures as older siblings. It will certainly make Googling someone a lot more interesting!

Un-Hawthrone-ed - It's true. I think a lot of us feel more comfortable talking to people online. Like it's somehow how "safe."

August 8, 2009 at 4:04 PM  

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