AVG Technologies Digital Diaries: Digital Birth - Guidelines and Considerationsfor Children Ages Zero to TwoThe Bottom LineIt is not easy to know how much information is the right amount to share online when it comes tochildren between the ages of zero and two. We are just learning what it means to live in adigital culture and can not possibly know the impact that our posts, emails, blogs, and texts willhave on the next generation. These unknowns combined with the enthusiasm around thesocial web, make it easy to get complacent and ignore the dilemmas about safety and privacy inthe digital age.Parents will feel better about their responsibility to look out for the well being of their children ifthey take the time to understand the issues. Once you understand the issues you can takesteps toward protecting online privacy and a child‟s “digital footprint”.What’s Different About Living in a Digital Culture?Researcher Danah Boyd, PhD does a good job of describing the differences between howrelating online differs from what we have grown accustomed to in the ways we share andcommunicate offline. A few of the key differences Dr. Boyd highlights are, “Persistence,Replicability, Searchability, and Invisible Audiences.”Here are some ways that these four concepts might change your feelings about posting a videoor picture of your two year old in the bathtub.“Persistence”: What happens online stays online. Remember, that same picture will still bearound when your child is five, thirteen, eighteen, and beyond.“Replicability”: Everything we say online can be reproduced and what we say can be changed ortaken out of context. Don‟t forget, once that picture or video is “live” it can have a life of its own.“Searchability”: Think of those „o‟s‟ in Google like they are eyes. Be aware that search enginesare only going to get more sophisticated at finding information. This is especially true when itcomes to videos and pictures.
“Invisible Audiences”: Offline we can clearly see who we are talking to and how they arereacting. This is not true online. Stay mindful of the fact that the same picture that seems cuteand innocent can mean something completely different when viewed in another context.After reading over these differences in online public life, you still might choose to post thepicture, but chances are having these points in mind might inspire you to take some steps toensure that you are maximizing the good and limiting the areas of concern.Here are a few steps that you can take:Make the effort - Many parents report that they do not give enough thought to what they shareonline and the digital footprint that they are leaving behind for their children. Try a differentapproach, take the attitude that you are going to stay informed and that you are going to takeaction.Do Your Due Diligence - Each site where you post photos, blogs, videos, and status updateswill have its own security settings. Before sharing any personal information about your childtake the time to make sure that the site protects your privacy and security.Choose Wisely - Be selective about what you post. This is especially important to keep inmind when considering posts about children zero to two years old who don‟t yet to have a voiceof their own.Choose an Audience - Social network sites are flexible enough that you can choose exactlywho sees your posts. Set up circles of friends and family in your online social world just as wedo offline. Get into the habit of deciding the appropriate circle for each post, email, blog, andtext before it gets posted.Think for Yourself - How you make decisions about appropriate post online will be based onmany things including your culture, your temperament, your computer literacy, and your comfortwith using social media. There is also a pressure (and pleasure) in showing more becausethese tools are new, exciting, and satisfying. Make sure to keep checking in with your ownfeelings and values because they are ultimately your best guide.ResourcesTo learn more about Danah Boyd, PhD visit, http://www.danah.org/For six steps to securing privacy on Facebook visit, http://free-product.blog.avg.com/2010/09/six-easy-steps-to-securing-your-facebooks-privacy-settings.htmlHow to take some steps to limit your children‟s digital footprint visit,http://public-policy.blog.avg.com/digital-footprint/To learn about Jason Brand, visit http://www.jasonbrand.com.To learn about Rona Renner, visit http://www.childhoodmatters.org.