I was following the hashtag for a social media event recently, when one of the attendees fired off an incredibly sobering tweet: 92 percent of toddlers have an online presence, and one-third of them were online while still in the womb.
As the mother of two children under the age of 3, I was immediately disturbed. Then, I became embarrassed by that judgmental knee-jerk reaction, because I realized my kids embodied those statistics.
We'd posted the first sonogram pictures for both of our children on Facebook for family and close friends to see. My timeline, as well as my husband's, is plastered with photos and videos of our children. And they're much too young to even fathom the question of whether or not they're OK with that.
As adults, we are constantly told to monitor our online presences. Even if we do not use social media tools for work purposes, it's still good to keep an eye on how we portray ourselves on the interwebs.
Many human beings on the planet today will soon grow old enough to competently use some version of an online social tool. And when they do, they will likely see a whole backlog of personal information they never entered themselves.
They will see pictures of themselves naked in bathtubs, smeared with food (or worse), and otherwise caught in silly kid situations that adults love to laugh at and remember fondly. The family album, once a cherished keepsake only brought out to embarrass budding young adults on their first dates, is now open to third parties — fully indexed and searchable.
Is that really OK?
I now wonder what my children will think when they see all the pictures, videos, and anecdotes I've posted online about them. And I look at these posts with more discerning eyes, because I realize that until they reach a proper age and competency, I am responsible for their online presences. And this responsibility should not be taken lightly.