Over the weekend, I read an interesting article aptly titled 92% of U.S. toddlers have an online presence and I was really shocked. We’re talking about toddlers not kids in high school or college. This piece really got me thinking about the implications of having an online presence so early in life. Just think, by the time you really do get online, you’ve already got a lot of information out there about you, some of which you may not want others to know about.
As silly as it seems, we all have pictures, videos, and or memories from our youth that though near and dear to us or to our loved ones, are not the type of things you want to share with the rest of the world. Perhaps your parents love that video of you taking your first steps around the house, or the picture of you in the hospital when you were in your mother’s arms shortly after birth, or there may be those pictures of you on a certain holiday or vacation dressed in fashions or donning a hairstyle you would like to forget you ever had. Those are the type of memories that most of us like to keep in the shoe box, photo albums, tapes, and slides, and out of the prying eyes of the public.
Yet, for those toddlers growing up in this day and age of the internet and social networking, keeping those memories hidden will be quiet an undertaking. I have friends on Facebook that post plenty of pictures of their kids as they compete in sports, pictures of the artwork they make for their parents, and pictures of them on vacation. I’m not saying it’s the wrong thing to do, but it’s something that makes us think about the future of information and how everything that’s on the internet never dies but ends up archived in some virtual vault somewhere akin to the Google cache option in search.
The article gets a lot more thought provoking when you figure that a lot of these parents are saving email addresses for the their kids so they’ll have one, most likely with their name, ready when they begin their foray online. I can see how some will want to have their name in their email address though most people use a combination of letters and numbers or nicknames for their email address. The only place I have not picked out my own email address is at work. Personally, I think an email address is not only something very personal but something one needs to get on their own that has to be to one’s liking. Having it picked out for you is similar to having someone pick who you should like, or what you should do.
Besides the fact that babies are getting email addresses put aside for them, the article says that most 30 year-olds have a web presence going back 10 to 15 years. That is a lot of information, data, pictures, and media that is out there in the public eye. It’s fascinating yet surprising at the same time. The best advice given in this article came from AVG CEO J.R. Smith whom cautioned parents on being careful about what information, pictures, and media were posted on the internet, since this information would follow them for the rest of their lives.
This article mentions the “online footprint” and it got me thinking about the BP ads that talked about the carbon footprint. In a similar fashion, we all have an online footprint; some larger than others. The online footprint also brings to mind something that Botgirl Questi spoke about, some time ago. She mentioned that she was reserving her name on different sites and virtual environments. That is, perhaps, something to think about insofar as our online presence is concerned. I for one don’t want my name used by someone who might be active in or participant in activities or lifestyles unlike me. I don’t want others to search my name and wonder “is that him or someone else?” This however, increases the size of your online footprint.
My questions to you are:
How big is your online footprint?
Are you willing to reserve your name in other worlds and sites to keep it from being used by someone else?