A recent study found that 92% of American children under the age of 2 have an online presence. This is because parents are putting more and more materials online about their kids including photos, information about upcoming school or athletic events, and even Facebook profiles for babies that haven’t been born yet. Parents are creating a digital footprint for their children that can’t be erased, often causing an online or digital birth before the child’s actual birth.
Because of this oversharing, parents are making it easier for other people to view information about their kids, especially if they don’t carefully control their privacy settings. While the main reason parents say they post pictures, status updates, etc. about their kids is to keep friends and relatives in the loop, there are overlooked cybersafety issues. Examples of risky material include the exact names and birthdays of kids, pictures, and details about upcoming family vacations (and therefore admitting that your house will be unattended for a certain amount of time).
There is a more personal way to keep friends and relatives updated on your children’s lives – private blogs, photo-sharing sites (Flickr, Photobucket, Snapfish), tightly controlled profiles – that don’t compromise your children’s futures or safety. Most importantly, this sets an example for your kids to not overshare when using their own social networking sites. Educating your kids by parental control and example can ensure that they too will value their online privacy and not, as Google CEO Eric Schmidt warns, have to change their names in the future to avoid any compromising personal information on the Internet.
Are you careful about what you put online regarding your kids? Do you know other parents who don’t control this as well?