Sharenthood: Why We Should Think before We Talk about Our Kids Online (Strong Ideas)
From baby pictures in the cloud to a high school's digital surveillance system: how adults unwittingly compromise children's privacy online.
Our children's first digital footprints are made before they can walk—even before they are born—as parents use fertility apps to aid conception, post ultrasound images, and share their baby's hospital mug shot. Then, in rapid succession come terabytes of baby pictures stored in the cloud, digital baby monitors with built-in artificial intelligence, and real-time updates from daycare. When school starts, there are cafeteria cards that catalog food purchases, bus passes that track when kids are on and off the bus, electronic health records in the nurse's office, and a school surveillance system that has eyes everywhere. Unwittingly, parents, teachers, and other trusted adults are compiling digital dossiers for children that could be available to everyone—friends, employers, law enforcement—forever. In this incisive book, Leah Plunkett examines the implications of “sharenthood”—adults' excessive digital sharing of children's data. She outlines the mistakes adults make with kids' private information, the risks that result, and the legal system that enables “sharenting.”
Plunkett describes various modes of sharenting—including “commercial sharenting,” efforts by parents to use their families' private experiences to make money—and unpacks the faulty assumptions made by our legal system about children, parents, and privacy. She proposes a “thought compass” to guide adults in their decision making about children's digital data: play, forget, connect, and respect. Enshrining every false step and bad choice, Plunkett argues, can rob children of their chance to explore and learn lessons. The Internet needs to forget. We need to remember.
Praise for Sharenthood: Why We Should Think before We Talk about Our Kids Online (Strong Ideas)
Plunkett is describing a set of questions, about data and privacy, that many of us already grapple with. Yet it all seems particularly nefarious in the context of children, for whom a defining condition of life is that they are captive to forces they cannot possibly grasp.... [Sharenthood's] most gripping moments come when she imagines scenarios that seem both far-fetched and, when you think more deeply about the direction of technological innovation, a bit inevitable.—Hua Hsu, The New Yorker—
Illuminating and common sense.... Reveals the alarming ways your family's data can be used and distributed, and advocates for a more thoughtful approach to how we parent your digital-era offspring.
—Mary Elizabeth Williams, Salon—
One of 13 Must-Read Books for Fall
Leah Plunkett illuminates children's digital footprints: the digital baby monitors, the daycare livestreams, the nurse's office health records, the bus and cafeteria passes recording their travel and consumption patterns—all part of an indelible dossier for anyone who knows how to look for it. Plunkett thinks the offspring surveillance ought to stop and has suggestions for how to kick the sharenting habit. They are worth considering.
—Emma Grey Ellis, Wired—
Presents, with humor, insight, and a laudable broad-mindedness, a look at all concerns, both hypothetical and glaringly real, that parents should consider....An engaging, interesting read, one that doesn't scold but rather encourages everyone to consider their own view of privacy and press pause for just a moment before they post, tweet, swipe, scan, or upload anything.