Growing up in the spotlight


Abigail Neulinger

Most teenagers nowadays are on some form of social media, but for many of us, our digital footprints started years before we became social media users. Our parents had already documented our development on platforms like Facebook. Everything from our first days of school to losing our teeth was put online. As we grew up, we became more aware of our online presence, but it wasn’t until we entered middle school that we started to choose what and how we were portrayed on social media.
As children, we knew what technology was and how to use it. Many of us had our own tablets or phones, and some of us made our first social media accounts before we even started middle school. We all eventually ventured onto our parents’ Facebook accounts and saw the pictures of us as we grew up. We saw our first day of kindergarten and our last day of middle school. We remembered our elementary school choir concerts and Little Tykes soccer uniforms. Though my parents did post a good share of my childhood, they made an effort to preserve the privacy I would want later in life. As a teen, I can look back on the memories I have forgotten and relive them over and over again. While my generation didn’t choose to have these photos of ourselves posted online, most parents were not trying to cause discomfort. Our parents chose how we were portrayed for our first few years, and now we can define our own online identity.
Over the past 10 years, as different media-sharing sites have become popular, family vlogging has become more common. Family vloggers film day-to-day to allow access to the many different aspects of their lives. They primarily stay on YouTube, but they have branched out to other media sharing sites such as TikTok and Instagram. Most family vloggers share lighthearted and happy moments with their families, but some also post meltdowns or tantrums online for the world to judge their children’s actions, as a way of discipline. Many viewers of family vlogging channels have begun to notice that many famous vloggers exploit their childrens’ privacy. There are many indicators of parents crossing the line of privacy for their children, such as showing their children having tantrums or mental breakdowns. These children should have the preserved privacy of not having the world judge their actions.
Family vlogging is not completely bad, but social media companies need to have a way to protect childrens’ privacy. Some have started to change their platform when involving minors. Youtube, in particular, has made family vlog channels’ comment sections blocked due to inappropriate comments. It should be the parent’s responsibility to understand what moments are safe and morally right to post online, especially when the children are too young to defend themselves.
Social media has always been a part of our lives. In general, it is not a bad thing; it can actually be very useful and positive. When the parents make an immoral decision about what they post about their children, social media companies need to be counted on to protect the privacy of the children. Adolescents should have a choice to decide what gets posted, whether it be by themselves or by their family. Some platforms have started to protect minors, and others should follow.