81% of two-year-olds have some kind of digital footprint. Starling? A Study published by Internet security firm AVG found that 5% of babies under 2 have social media profiles, while 7% have an email address. What are these little guys doing online? Turns out their parents are carving out an online space for their youngsters – er infants — er fetus’. According the report, 23% of fetuses also had images of their antenatal scans uploaded before birth.
In a hyper interactive internet world, where social media is taking over our free time, its only natural that parents are putting their kids on the internet. It can even has positive effects on their “influence” . This is a growing trend! Parents are creating social media profiles for their kids, buying their name URLs and reserving their place online. Companies are following suit! Huggies has a very popular Tumblr, a site consisting primarily of teens. It seems that companies are beginning to target their market before they are even really their market. Are babies next?
There are special networks like Cafe Mom designed for mothers to talk amongst each other about their baby journey. Your may have friends who already have a social print for their kids, like the Boones or the Brownes. Parents celebrating their infants and unborn children is just the tip of the iceberg. Unlike most social media users, these children have a social media footprint before they even know how to walk, let alone type. So as these parents manage their profiles until their children ripen to internet maturity, it begs the question: What will this affect have on children when they take control of their own profiles?
Privacy. First and foremost privacy will be leading the concerns. The level of comfort parents have with their social media content may not match up with their children’s, for better or worse. Children may be embarrassed by the amount shared over the years, or on the other end of the spectrum, parents may be hyper controlling when it comes time to hand over the reigns.
Keeping in Touch. Family and friends will have been keeping up with these children online. Minimizing the need for those long winded holiday family update letters at christmas. Gone will be the days of family scrap books and photo albums, as everything will be stored neatly in your Facebook time – accessable through a simple search query.
Dating. No need to polish that shotgun, Dad. Your daughter’s date has a full history online and you can check up on him and his activities since birth. The other side of the coin is your child can research their prom dates months before asking them. Transparency is going to be the new black of the internet chic.
Genealogy. Getting a bit geekier. Your children’s children will have a world of “adults” with chronological histories online. Family Trees will take a new digital format and the 6 degrees model will be realized in a true, holistic online model.
Age barriers. Back to the realm of privacy. You cringe when you see a 6 year old with their own iPad and cell phone – we ask now “what happened to the days of playing ball in the street and sock puppets?” – the future holds an even more unimaginable desensitization. Given these children already have profiles, you can assume their kids will, too. The age of the average user will inevitably drop.
It may be too soon to say this is a bad or good thing. It borders on ethical issues, but none that have yet to be taken advantage of. Your Thoughts?