As a new parent there is nothing more exciting and terrifying than the digital age we live in. On one level there’s an opportunity to share, document, and enjoy your newborn in a way our parents could have never dreamed. Every first step, first word, first anything can be captured in real time and kept in a digital vault to relive, share with family and friends, and one day to gently embarrass. It’s a digital age we live in and there’s little to stop it.
That’s exactly what’s terrifying.
Real time digital documentation is growing faster than a baby in the womb. Companies compete for the next great gadget we’ll wear or carry with us everywhere pinpointing our location. They also create mobile apps and platforms encouraging you to turn over the keys to our online life. Whether it’s Facebook buying Instagram to integrate your filtered photos right into your timeline, Google snapping up YouTube to seamlessly share videos, or Yahoo! taking on Tumblr. These companies are trying to create a hub for you to willingly deposit your digital life for them to cultivate, learn more and more about you, and cash in on the advertising dollars.
The class of 2017, is the first to enter college never knowing life without the internet. I still remember sitting in front of the computer waiting for dialup only to be kicked off by someone unknowingly picking up the phone. These kids are the wired (now wireless) guinea pigs of this digital revolution, I hope they’re prepared.
It now takes less than an hour for parents to post a picture online of their newborn. An hour. Which means we are creating a digital footprint of our child nearly the moment they’re born. Long before they ever create actual footprints their own. Each photo we upload to a social media site, each name we use, every tag attached to us, each time we check-in that information is stored, scanned, and shared essentially giving newborns social media street cred before they even know what it is.
In today’s digital world, owning your name as your social media “handle” is fierce competition. Resumes now contain LinkedIn & Twitter handles, and who wants to have @name8764_59 on their resume? Parents are going to great lengths to register web domains of their child’s name upon birth. Setting up email accounts, Twitter and Facebook profiles, and many others, so their child has “ownership” of themselves as they grow up. Could you imagine your parents trying to do that when you were born?
I’ll admit, it’s a practice that has reason. You want everything for your child and in our ever changing digital world, that now apparently means online name control. It’s easy to go overboard, registering for anything and everything just to “own” it. I get it, very little of what we do online is within our control and this is a small step toward that. But who knows, will Twitter still be around in 13 years when they MAY get the “keys” to their account?
Parenting has no rule book, as much as we’d all like it to. Baby doesn’t come with an instruction manual and as online trends and new technologies emerge, sticks and stones no longer are the only concerns for moms and dads. So is monitoring internet traffic, social media accounts, friends and followers, it’s all apart of this new age for parents.
As we welcomed our bundle of joy, we had many things to focus on, getting his digital footprint assigned wasn’t high on the list. Yes, he’ll likely show up on facebook within a few hours of birth, we’ll use our camera phones to document his firsts, and who knows he may eventually get an email account because this idea is pretty awesome. Online management is important and we’ll talk about what will be important to us and hopefully to Baby, after we’re rested up and actually getting some sleep.
The world is exciting and terrifying, each generation has a new worry to face in this world…ours just happens to be followed by the words “wide web.”
How do you plan to introduce your child to the digital age? Share in the comments below.