What to Consider Before Putting Your Kids Online

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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.

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Image via Tess Comrie

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

Vivian is a digital strategist, writer and podcast host based in New York. She's built a community on her own website and through Instagram on the topics of mental health, grief and vulnerability.

4 COMMENTS
  • Hannah Lacy June 8, 2017

    As a mother I didn’t create any public digital footprints for my son until after he was two. And even now I have guidelines or boundaries, whatever you want too call them. I share photos of my son with me, or eating or playing. But I don’t share naked photos, or bath tub photos, usually no sleeping photos, or nursing photos. I think that some moments of motherhood should be kept sacred. And I ask myself how would my son feel if he sees these photos when He is older? Will he feel loved? or like I violated his privacy? And you have to keep in mind that no everyone looking at pictures of your child is a loving parent. I check the profiles and feed of everyones that starts following me and if there is anything that makes me feel uncomfortable, I block them. It probably hurts my followers count, but my childs safety is much more important too me. I think Mothers should also ask why they are sharing a photo, is it too boost their online presence, or genuinely to share a loving moment with their children?

  • Janell Ives June 7, 2017

    I must say, I am both intrigued and concerned about the families (namely vloggers and Instagrammers) who put their babies online. They’ve essentially made a living by how cute their kids are. There are strangers who dedicate whole fan pages to their children! I just wonder what kind of psychological implications this will have on the children once they become adults. Will we see a new level of vanity emerge in the coming generations?

    -Janell Ives
    https://coverpagemusic.com/

  • Chaucee June 6, 2017

    I do think it’s a bit strange when a child has their own FB page and public Instagram profile, especially the younger they are. However, as an Auntie, I love seeing updates of my nieces and nephews. There are apps out there, like Lifecake, that is a social platform with the privacy of sharing photos of your children with just the people you select. Ultimately it’s up to the parent so I don’t feel comfortable judging someone for having their kid all over social media, but I’m interested to hear what the kids themselves will think about it in 20 years.

  • I’m still torn about what I feel about parents putting their kids online. On one hand, we should consider the safety of the kids etc, since nothing on the internet remains private. But I do understand that today, it’s hard not to when social media is such a big part of our lives. Maybe I’ll be more certain on a standpoint when I become a parent myself.

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog
    http://charmainenyw.com

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