The New York Times’ Well blog recently featured a piece about a major disconnect between children’s and parents’ beliefs regarding social media rules. According to researchers at the University of Washington and the University of Michigan, more children than parents say they don’t want parents posting anything about them on social media without asking.
This issue comes up a lot at Cancer and Careers, whether we’re talking to childhood cancer survivors who are dealing with the later-in-life repercussions of parents’ posts — for example, when looking for a job — or with adult survivors who feel they don’t have control when friends or family post about their diagnosis online without their permission.
In most cases, friends and relatives post/share updates on your diagnosis out of love (e.g., they want to show support) or convenience (i.e., it’s an easy way to keep key people updated), without realizing the challenges or discomfort it may cause you. So it’s important for you to think about what information, if any, you want to share privately and publicly, and communicate these wishes to your friends and family.
If you are the parent of a cancer patient or survivor, be sure to consider the permanence and the privacy-related issues of the information you are sharing — and what challenges your posts may create for your child down the road, once he/she is able to decide for themselves what they want their online image to be.
For survivors and families who are looking for more-private ways to post updates and provide support online, we recommend using MyLifeLine.org or Caring Bridge.org, both of which are designed specifically for patients going through cancer or other life-changing illnesses. But remember that default privacy settings may not always be the most restrictive, and that privacy policies are always changing. You can read more about these sites in a previous CAC blog post.