Last night my fiancé sent me a link to a video called, " I Want Bad Religion." For more than a minute the little boy in the YouTube clip cries while strapped into his car seat, demanding and pleading that his parents play his favourite song from the 1980s punk band. Sure, it's funny now, in 2010, but I can't help but wonder what this digital share might mean to the kid 10 or 20 years down the road.
The "Bad Religion" parents are not alone. According to a new study from AVG, an Internet security company, more than 90 per cent of children in the United States have an online presence by the time they are two years old.
A quarter of children included in the report have "online births" before they're actually born. In other words, parents upload and share prenatal sonogram photos with their Internet networks. In Canada, 37 per cent of mothers share these early digital footprints, sooner than any other country involved in the survey.
Spanish mothers were most concerned about what they were sharing online about their children, the report stated. Canadian moms were the least worried in the group. We're also high up on the list for giving our little ones an e-mail address and social network profile.
While these stats are surprising, I have to admit that within a few hours of giving birth to my son, I tweeted the good news. My partner and I also created a website for our little guy, but eased back on publicly posting more personal pics as he got older.
This report immediately makes me think back to my own childhood. I'm happy that the only real evidence of my bowl-inspired haircuts, nightly baths and horrendous Halloween costumes is tucked away in an old-school photo album, complete with sticky pages and discoloured pics.
Are we sharing too much about our children? It seems that each new generation is more lax about privacy. Just take a look at youropenbook.org to see how comfortable teens and twentysomethings are about posting every awkward, incriminating, and personal detail about their everyday lives.
I do think it's worth putting a cautious foot forward. For example, it's easy to protect videos of your kids on YouTube with a password. Also, now you can create groups within Facebook so you can share personal content with a select list of people. While I'm all for self expression, I'm just not sure as parents we should assume what our kids will want down the road. In other words, will the "Bad Religion" boy be horrified or complacent about his YouTube legacy? It's hard to say for sure, but at least he should have a say, and a clean slate to craft his own online reputation.