Babies, Facebook, and Digital Footprints

Babies, Facebook, and Digital Footprints
June 24, 2011 Leslie Juvin-Acker

My mother-in-law mailed me an article she found in Madame Le Figaro called Babyboom sur (on) Facebook . It featured statistics and stories about how parents use social media to share photos and videos of their children and how this activity can lead to dangerous consequences.

The article based its statistics on a 2010 survey conducted by AVG, an internet security firm, which states that 81% of children under the age of two in the the US and Canada and the EU5 countries (UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain) already have a digital footprint, which on average begins at
six months, 23% beginning at the first sonograms.

The article points out that kids are susceptible to identity theft by posting the date, time, and location of birth amongst other personal details like home address and mother’s maiden name.

My brother and sister in law are both children’s psychiatrists. They specifically asked my husband and I not to post any photos of their kids on the internet, especially public forums like Facebook and Twitter, because of their experience of working with troubled children who were abused by the hands of pedophiles and the issues raised by parents about child protection. They pointed out the dangers of posting children’s photos and videos on the internet – however innocent they might be – could attract or even be used as material for pedophiles.

Some might say my in laws are crazy protective, but they have a strong point. Articles like these and speaking with professionals such as my in laws got me thinking about the dangers and potential problems of exposing children to the wild west that is the internet and the click happy nature of an amateur photographer such as myself. It’s even led me to ask my friends for permission to take photos of their children and if it’s OK to share them online. Sometimes, I get strange, but receptive looks, before a ‘yes’ yet I prefer to ask permission than to put a child at risk.

This subject has got me wondering about what we’ll do when it comes time for us to have our first kid. I’ve got friends and family on just about every corner and continent of globe. How do I keep things personal without getting too personal? That’s a tricky situation. I’ve contemplated creating a private access website for family memories, but I need to check with my web guru friend to be sure that this option is still safe.

There are countless of bloggers and parents out there who have no issue posting information about their children online, many children partially nude photos, at just about every stage of development with personal stories and videos to boot. Only time will tell if these parents and their children will pay the price of their exhibitionism or continue life unscathed.

What’s your family’s policy on children and the internet? Do you have hundreds of photos of your child on Facebook or on another social media network? Share your experience and opinion with me and other readers.

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