Should your kid have an online presence?

Be careful before posting pics of your little one.

Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon recently caused a stir when they created Dembabies.com, a website dedicated to their newborn twins Moroccan and Monroe, complete with intimate and revealing shots of the babies in the bath and even in the hospital. But the Carey-Cannons are not the only family giving their kids an online presence at a very early age — babies are now on Twitter, YouTube and Facebook, which even has an option to add an “expected” member of their family, complete with a photo and  due date.

The average child’s “digital birth” is at about 6 months old, according to a global report by Internet Security specialist AVG, although photos of 33 percent of children are posted online just weeks after birth, and almost a quarter of children have a digital footprint before birth, when their parents put sonogram photos online. Eighty-one percent of children have a digital profile by age 2.

“Parents should bear in mind that as soon as they post something online it is very difficult and often impossible to remove,” warns Pamela Whitby, author of “Is your child safe online?: A parent’s guide to the internet, Facebook, mobile phones & other new media.” “By creating a digital presence for your child at a young age, you may be compromising their privacy.”

The dangers of a digital footprint for babies include misappropriation of photos and identity theft if too many details are revealed, says Whitby. There’s also the potential impact on your own relationship with your child. “Parents should ask themselves how they would feel if every aspect of their own childhood was made public,” says Whitby. “Some children may not like the history their parents have created for them.”

Safety first

Keep your child safe online:
   
Read the terms of use of the website that you intend to use; many have rules about the minimum age of users.
   
Keep in mind that the Internet is a public place; references to your child will be available forever and a child’s reputation can be impacted by anything that a parent chooses to share.
   
Set your privacy settings carefully and consider sharing only with immediate family and friends.
   
Consider exactly what information you are sharing and with whom you are sharing it. Don’t use full names and avoid explicitly identifiable information.
   
Remember that children view their parents as a source for what is appropriate and inappropriate behavior online; parents should only post information that they would feel comfortable with their child posting of themselves as they get older. Source: www.fosi.org


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