“Alison Santighian flicks her finger over her smartphone screen, and her Facebook profile scrolls past in a blur. She is looking for a particular photo from a few days ago, a picture her 9-year-old son, Arsen, didn’t want her to take.
“Found it!” she says. Arsen, sitting beside her on the family’s patio at their Bethesda, Md.,home, peers over her shoulder. “He looked very handsome that day,” Alison explains, and Arsen rolls his eyes. He was dressed in a dapper white suit for a piano performance, and when Alison asked him to pose for a picture that she could share with her Facebook followers, Arsen said he’d rather not.
In the end, they landed on a compromise, and Arsen did strike a pose: He slumped in his seat with a piano music book tented over his face, his expression hidden.
There have been more negotiations like this lately, as the Santighian kids — Arsen and his 11-year-old sister, Elsa — have begun asking questions and expressing opinions when their parents decide to share a photo or personal anecdote on social media. Such conversations have become a nearly ubiquitous rite of passage among families where children of a certain generation — the true digital natives, many of whom may have debuted on Facebook before exiting the womb — are now old enough to have their own ideas about what they want their online presence to look like, and who has the right to define it.”
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