When you bring your significant other home for the first time, there’s often a photo album buried under other childhood memorabilia that you just know your family is going to dust off. You’ll sit on the couch, your face hidden behind your palms as they flip through that one time you did something funny in the bathtub when you were two.
Did you ever think that you’d feel lucky compared to what children are growing up with today?
Somehow a mostly-secret album at your parent’s house seems like paradise compared to the digital footprint many parents are creating for their children today. According to a study by AGV, an Internet security firm, over 90 percent of American children have an online presence before the age of two — this is both a good and a potentially not-so-good thing.
On the one hand, how awesome to be able to extend your child’s identity to the online world he or she will one day be proactively participating in? Securing your child’s domain or username, whether it’s to create a placeholder you retain rights to or whether it’s to actively create an online identity for your baby, can be advantageous. Baby names, especially popular ones, can go quickly. Getting in early means that first come, first served works in your (and your baby’s) favor and gives them that ideal .com they may want down the line.
… over 90 percent of American children have an online presence before the age of two …
Plus, as Webroot, a cyber-security company, explains, “By doing so, you’ve secured digital space to create positive content revolving around child. The point here is to combat the negative attention that’s connected to the name and strategically outlast [a] scandal, thereby elevating your kid’s presence in search engine rankings.”
Having a landing page with updates on how your baby is developing is also a good reason to snag a domain or certain Instagram handle, but like all best practices when it comes to social media — prioritize privacy.
When you’re deciding to create a digital presence for your child, lead by example. Here’s what to keep in mind:
Learn the ins and outs of privacy settings.
Privacy settings are ever evolving entities. On Facebook, they change every other month and can get tricky if you’ve missed the last few. Facebook’s Q&A section helps close the gap on what you should know about privacy settings; you’ll want to prioritize the setting that determines who can see your pictures/statuses and the limits of how they can be shared.
Think about what you wouldn’t want someone to share about you.
When your tot is still too young to give his or her opinion on how you share about them online, think about what you would and wouldn’t like shared about yourself. Yes, the picture of them in the bathtub or crying in the back of the car may be momentarily endearing, but it could be permanently embarrassing once anyone is able to Google it. You want to live by the line you’re probably going to repeat vigorously and often when your child’s a teen – ‘don’t share anything online that you wouldn’t be proud of in a couple of years.’ Lead by example and don’t create any gratuitous fodder that others can hold over baby’s head when they are a teen.
Before you post, think of worst-case scenarios.
In the case of pictures shared, there’s always a possibility of pictures being stolen and repurposed without your consent. Once the content is out in the digital universe it’s very hard to retain control of who uses it and how. For instance, digital kidnapping — others sharing photos of your baby like he or she is theirs — is a reality, as can be malicious postings of your baby’s pictures. A mom in Florida once uncovered a Facebook group that was dedicated solely to commenting on pictures of babies the group’s members considered ugly.
There’s no reason you need to avoid sharing your little bundle of joy’s weekend highlights on Instagram. Make it a habit to cover your bases when it comes to privacy settings and to conduct your own litmus test on whether this could embarrass your little one in the future. After consideration, you’re ready to hit share!
What are your thoughts on children having “digital footprints?”
Featured Image via Maddy Corbin