I read a recent study stating that 5% of babies under 2 have social media profiles, 7% have an email address, and 81% of two-year-olds have a digital footprint. Beyond the "everyone needs to have it" foot-in-clay imprint, does anyone 2 and under need a presence in the social sphere? I think there is a difference between choosing to socialize your baby and having them pulled accidentally into the abyss of endless Google results.
My son Jonah is all of 5-months now. Does he have an email address? Absolutely not. Honestly, who is going to send him anything? He doesn't need any pills to enhance his baby "manhood". The Finance Minister of Nigeria will have to go through me if he wants to give him half a billion dollars. And more likely than not, his allowance isn't going to be enough to cover any sort of Groupon that comes his way.
His existence in social networks and search results is another matter all together, and his mother and I are to blame. The poor kid never knew that he had to secure all of his privacy settings directly through us. Now I haven't set him up with any profiles, so there has been no photo tagging. He really has nothing all that interesting to say worth tweeting, so I haven't bothered to get him a handle. But when I do a search of his name, poor kid is ahead of the 2-year digital footprint curve. I uploaded a home video I made onto Youtube, because the file was too large to share with my family on Facebook. Digital footprint started!
For a kid who has a foot the size of a lime, does he or she really need a print in the digital space? Here are a few reasons why they might:
1) Baby modeling - You have to self promote somewhere, right? How else will parents profit off those good looks?
2) Baby bloggers - Is there an audience out there who like to read a bunch of "alskflj ljasdf lj hjsdf;ljdf ;alfja;djf a;fj afj "? Trust me, it's all I get when I let my guy onto the computer.
3) Social play date matching and setups - Wait....there might be an actual business idea there.
The truth is that any digital footprint a kid might have by age two is an extension of a parent's complete and total belief that their baby is the cutest and most adorable person ever created, and the desire to share that opinion with anyone and everyone. In this day and age of digital photo albums overtaking the existence of physical ones, it might be a long shot to think that any newborn will reach the age of 2 without a digital footprint bigger than his or her actual one.
But I still don't get the whole baby email address thing.