Working in online media, and especially at a parenting
publication, I often run into concerns about privacy. Parents want
to share their kids' stories, but don't necessarily want their
kids' pictures or full names thrown about willy-nilly on the
Internet. Many mom and dad bloggers use their kids' initials, first
names only or pet names.
But most parents aren't so careful. A recent report released finds that by the time they're
2 years old, 92 percent of U.S. children have an online footprint,
complete with names and photos. And this online presence isn't
coming from government records, financial documents or the news
media, but instead from their parents, who share photos, milestones
and celebrations with friends and family.
Setting up Facebook profiles for babies is a cute and
convenient way to keep friends and family in the loop, but it's
also a lot of information to share about someone who can't lift his
Not only that, but for all the uniquely American emphasis on
personal privacy, American kids are far more exposed than children
from other countries.
The study, run by Internet security company AVG surveyed mothers
in nine countries and found that jut 73 percent of 2-year-olds have
in five European countries an online presence.
The study found:
Now, I'm not sure there's anything fundamentally wrong with this
(except maybe the babies-with-email-addresses part. I think these
are the same parents who put their newborns on the phone when you
call.) The ability to share pictures of kids' first birthdays and
first steps and first tooth and first day of school let families
stay connected and take parents' biological need to brag about
their kids to an entirely new level.
But it's important to remember that there's no shelf life to
online information and that tiny pieces of data, harmless enough by
themselves, can be stitched together to create a startlingly
accurate picture of someone's life. The website ICanStalkU.com
shows how people inadvertently share information in their tweets
that leave them vulnerable.
Don't freak out, and please don't stop sharing adorable
and hilarious photos and stories and videos about your kids.
They're, well, adorable and hilarious and they're part of the way
we live, communicate and, yes, parent in today's age. And what
would we do without "Charlie bit me" and The Laughing Baby?
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