At least once a week someone recommends that I watch a funny clip of a baby, toddler or child on YouTube. More often than not, the clip has gone viral, garnering tens of thousands of views.
Like any mother worth her salt, when my children said brilliant or hilarious comments, I called my mother and mother-in-law to pass it on. When one of the children crawled into the fireplace, emerging covered with soot from head to toe, my husband and I snapped pictures and shared them with our families. We even shared particularly entertaining remarks or outrageous dress-up costumes with friends and, in return, listened to tales of their precocious offspring and viewed their own snapshots.
What we see today is a completely new ballgame, and one that is making me increasingly uncomfortable. In a sea change the emphasis has changed from delighting in your child’s antics to amassing millions of ‘hits’ in the hope of being invited to appear on the Ellen DeGeneres Show. Furthermore, the videos I’m being sent are increasingly discomfiting. What is a chocolate-face child to think when he insists that he didn’t touch the cake and Mommy’s reaction is to video the situation rather than tackle the lie? What will a yet unborn sibling think when she hears her father reassure his son with many sisters that he too was disappointed to hear that another infant girl was on the way? When Dad realizes how cringe-worthy his comment is and how it will hurt his daughter in the future, he won’t be able to relegate his words to the past. They are immortalized and in the control of those with no emotional ties to someone he will deeply love.
The presence of the camera encourages parents to egg their children into greater tantrums, to celebrate rather than condemn extreme statements and actions. While initially, the clips I was sent were innocent – a baby’s uncontrollable laughter while her father ripped a paper – they are now troubling.
Most of us still cherish our precious and personal moments. The majority of parents still respect their family and children’s privacy. Yet, for our society, there is something disturbing as more of us choose to breach the bounds of confidentiality, including those of the most innocent and vulnerable, whom we are morally obliged to protect.
Can you name all Ten Commandments? Is that a Sunday School exercise or can understanding them profoundly change your life?
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