Thursday, November 11, 2010

Does Someone With Such a Small Foot Need a Digital Footprint?

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.

1 comment:

  1. I'm working on a project to display 88 faculty from 10 different programs at UGA in a javascript image map. Obviously I needed pictures of said faculty to complete this project. Interestingly enough, one out of the entire 88 does not have a picture available online. The department doesn't have one. He has no LinkedIn or Facebook presence. A quick Google provided me with a host of pages, newsletters, and articles that reference him. Yet, not a single resource had a picture of the man. He's a mystery. And in this day and age, I was simply shocked that a man of this level of involvement in society could somehow keep his mugshot off the internet. It's piqued a bizarre sort of curiosity in me. Personally, I've been tracking my digital footprint for close to 14 years now. It's relatively easy to find me, pictures of me, articles about me, and goodness knows what else. In the past six years, I'm largely responsible for the increasing size of my footprint. However, I'm a 34-year old doctoral student in instructional technology. I'm expected to have an online presence, a traceable trail of contributions to the field. When it comes to my not-even-conceived-much-less-unborn child, though, I'm pretty sure that friends and family will be just fine with viewing dedicated albums on Facebook or playlists on Youtube (the growing number of mothers who use only their children's picture as their own profile image is also a new topic of research into personal identity).
    I have to wonder if there is or will be any correlation between parents who force their child into the digital spotlight and parents who steal their children's identities for credit purposes (another story entirely, but also becoming more prevalent).