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 with this disclosure.
Am I mistaken to believe that they took this a bit far without the parents' permission?
- Somewhere in Suburbia
DEAR SOMEWHERE: While your shock would be completely justified if this home video were broadcast on your local television news without your permission, 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 for school projects or for fun.
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 our 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 that you are watching - along with the rest of us.
DEAR AMY: Should I report to my orthopedic surgeon that his physician assistant is patronizing and sexist?
I've seen this 50-something male four times.
He pats me on the back, arm or head every time I see him.
When I placed a call to ask him a follow-up question after rotator cuff surgery, he referred to me as "Toots."
I've noticed that he pats the nursing staff as well.
I can't be the only one who finds this offensive and demeaning.
- Concerned Patient
DEAR CONCERNED: Many women would not find a physician assistant touching or patting them offensive because these are things that probably should happen in an orthopedist's office (certainly during the examination), though hand placement and intent are important in any context (and patting a patient on the head is just strange).
"Toots" is another issue, though surely you can appreciate someone who can use a phrase from a 1930s screwball comedy with confidence - Toots is definitely not something a professional should call a client.
The person you should first express your displeasure to is the offender. Give him a chance to treat you as you would like to be treated.
If he can't figure out how to behave professionally toward you immediately, then take your concerns to the surgeon.
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 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.
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