ControverSunday: Teeny Tiny Footprints in the Giant Digital World

This week’s topic is about the digital footprint of toddlers. The topic was prompted by a study revealing that 82% of children under the age of two have a digital footprint.

We all want to be the best parent that we can be. Marketers know this. Newsmakers know this. Even bureaucrats know this (ever really read a Health Canada brochure?). If parents suspect they are doing something that compromises their children’s future/health/happiness, then those parents are apt to act. Add a convincing study to the communiqué and you have a great persuasive piece.

Consider some of the currently accepted parenting knowledge:
– Play classical music to your unborn child to increase their intelligence
– Children learn a second language best when they are young
– Don’t eat fish when you are pregnant
– The infant/toddler years are the most formative
– If you want your child to be great at a sport, start them as early as possible

(By the way, there is also research that refutes the above claims. Funny what studies we choose to remember and live by.)

As parents, we seem to gobble up studies that help us mold the brightest, most athletic, and charming children. And parents seem grateful for research that guides them in keeping their children out of danger’s way. No wonder the statistic that 82% of toddlers have a digital footprint makes parents sit up and pay attention. They may start to wonder if they (or relatives and friends) have compromised their child’s future by not respecting their privacy. What if little Johnny’s identity is stolen?

But, like any study that sends parents running to modify their lives in an effort to provide the perfect life for their children, I believe we must remember the two tenants of slow parenting:
– Go back to the basics
– Leave the kids alone

Getting back to basics when considering technology is about using technology in a sincere and thoughtful way. It is not tweeting about your wife while she is in labour with your child. It is about being present in the moment with your children and, if appropriate, to share it digitally in a thoughtful way. Getting back to basics does not mean avoiding giving your toddler a digital footprint, it means that you do it in a way that is respectful and doesn’t overshadow their real world presence. (More about slow technology here)

Leave the kids alone is the Idle Parenting philosophy. It is as much for the parents as the kids. The more we fret about our kids, the less effective our parenting. Worrying about our children’s digital footprint will not make children immune to privacy issues, but it will make us more anxious parents. We are foolish to think that we can prevent all terrible things from coming into our children’s lives.

Perhaps, but only perhaps, your child’s identity is stolen from them because of the pictures you posted on FaceBook. But then again, just perhaps, you will bring a little joy to Johnny’s grandparents with that digital photo of him on his first birthday. And hopefully that is worth way more than parental distress about the mere potential of privacy issues.

New to ControverSunday? Here is what it’s all about:

ControverSunday is a collaborative blog meme, whereby the goal is to share, discuss and hear out different perspectives on parenting, society and other stuff that matters. All those who participate bring to the table a unique perspective and approach others with mutual respect. Participating is a way to build community, to learn something and to reflect and evaluate our own choices.

ControverSunday is hosted by AMoment2Think. The badge was created by Accidents. Read what others are saying on this subject. Visit AMoment2Think to find their links.

5 Responses to “ControverSunday: Teeny Tiny Footprints in the Giant Digital World”

  1. 1 Mama Tortoise November 14, 2010 at 7:53 am

    Ginger, Megan and Clara – Thanks for your comments! As I said somewhere else, asking a bunch of bloggers about digital privacy seems a little silly – of course we feel confident about what the digital world and don’t want it to seem like a scary place.

  2. 2 Ginger November 8, 2010 at 6:53 pm

    GREAT post. I do think that we’re taught to fret and worry and you’re right, a lot of that takes us out of the moment while parenting, and the digital footprint is no exception.

    And honestly, with no family close by, Facebook, email, and video sites are what have allowed Jackson to know and be known by his extended family. So I’ll always be grateful to technology for that.

  3. 3 Megan November 8, 2010 at 10:45 am

    I agree with Clara. That was a very calming post. It’s so refreshing to be reminded NOT to worry obsessively about our kids when everything we read is either directly or passive aggressively telling us we NEED to be worried about every aspect of their lives.

    I’m pretty lax about what I post about Charlotte, but I am confident I do it is a way that is also respectful to her.

  4. 4 clara November 8, 2010 at 4:36 am

    What a calm, measured approach. I love this post – it makes me breathe more slowly just reading it. I also happen to agree with you…love this: “it means that you do it in a way that is respectful and doesn’t overshadow their real world presence” especially.

  1. 1 ControverSunday: Digital Privacy « amoment2think Trackback on November 7, 2010 at 10:25 am

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