Is getting a digital footprint for your kids before they are born smart parenting or just new wave paranoia in the Internet age? I have posted my children’s photos on Facebook. And I have written extensively about them in articles, including numerous times on this very website, which according to this article on Slate may affect their chances of getting into a decent college. The author of the article, Amy Webb, discusses how her and her husband made a vow before their child was born that they would never post any photographs or personal identifying information about their daughter online. She talks about how her friend has a daughter named “Kate” and how the mother has jeopardized her daughter’s future by identifying her on the Internet:
That poses some obvious challenges for Kate’s future self. It’s hard enough to get through puberty. Why make hundreds of embarrassing, searchable photos freely available to her prospective homecoming dates? If Kate’s mother writes about a negative parenting experience, could that affect her ability to get into a good college? We know that admissions counselors review Facebook profiles and a host of other websites and networks in order to make their decisions.
She also explains how her and her husband have gone a different route for their own child:
Knowing what we do about how digital content and data are being cataloged, my husband and I made an important choice before our daughter was born. We decided that we would never post any photos or other personally identifying information about her online. Instead, we created a digital trust fund.
They searched the internet to see if any negative content was associated with her name before she was born. They used this in determining whether or not the name they had selected for their unborn should be changed in advance. They secured her an email address, a twitter account, a Facebook account and a URL of her name and they plan on presenting her with these things and the accompanying passwords when she is older. They wanted to do all of this to give her a digital adulthood that’s free of bias and presumption.
I think this all sounds pretty awesome and a smart thing for new parents to do, but it’s way too late for me. I’ve talked about my kids online. I’ve posted photographs of them using their names. I’ve written about them. I’ve basically hijacked their digital identities. I’m not as bad as some parents. I don’t have Facebook albums dedicated to photographs of them. I’m careful about what I write and I ask their permission if I use an anecdote about raising them in an article. But they don’t have E-mail addresses. They have no domain names. I never googled their names before they were born. I may need to rethink some of my digital parenting skills.