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Party video turns up on YouTube, and Mom's mad

December 07, 2009

Dear Amy: My 10-year-old son attended a classmate's birthday party held in a public venue. Afterward, food was served at the birthday boy's home.

Video was taken of the children in both places, and the video was posted on YouTube.

We don't know the family all that well, and we were surprised to see very clear images of our child on YouTube. I called the mom and politely expressed my unhappiness.

Am I mistaken to believe that they took this a bit far without the parents' OK?

Somewhere in Suburbia

Dear Somewhere: While your shock would be completely justified if this home video were broadcast on your local TV news without your OK, YouTube is a video-sharing site, and many people see the site as a benign way to enjoy and share footage without going to the trouble and expense of reproducing and distributing it.

Video of your son will end up on YouTube when he appears in his school's holiday concert, basketball tournament or Boy Scouts awards ceremony. He and his friends will make films and post them on YouTube.

While I understand your rational parental concern about use of your son's image without his (or your) consent, you should use this opportunity to educate your child about the risks of video sharing.

I think all concerned parents regret the loss of privacy their children will experience as they grow up in our virtual world. But it is your son's world to inherit, and you should work with him to make sure he is cautious -- and aware of the consequences. Tell him that when there is a camera around, he should assume you -- and the rest of us -- are watching.


Dear Amy: With Christmas card season upon us, may I make a suggestion?

My family has been going through a divorce for the last couple of years. The first Christmas my family and I were going through this, nobody sent us a card.

It was so painful.

The holidays were hard enough on us, but we felt neglected at the time; we could have used some cheer.

Readers, if you know a family in a similar situation, please don't cross them off your list just because it's awkward.

Just address your cards to "The Jones Family" and tell them you are thinking of them.

It would have meant the world to us.

A Single Mom

Dear Mom: Thank you for the reminder of how important these seasonal greetings can be -- I assume you are sending your cards too.

Send questions to Amy Dickinson by e-mail to or by mail to Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611.

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