You probably have at least one friend who has been uploading photos of her baby on Facebook. Pictures appear of the toddler's first steps; videos show the toddler's first words. As the child grows, you might get introduced to her new outfits and kindergarten friends. Unknowingly, the baby has been on social media since her birth.
That's the topic my college friends were heatedly discussing over lunch the other day. They insisted that every person should be allowed to make a conscious decision about whether or not she wants to participate in the social media culture. Interestingly enough, that is not what parents think.
"All I wanted was to avoid being one of those annoying parents who post photos of their kids on their own page," wrote parent Joel Stein who created a separate Facebook account for his 3-month-old son this summer. Facebook, however, disabled the page since members under 13 years old cannot join the social utility. Naturally, Stein was angry that he had lost all the posted information and had to restore it for families and friends.
Similarly, many parents have expressed an interest in creating a social network for their toddlers. Totspot, for instance, is a Web site for parents and families to share photos, videos and milestones of their babies. Like Facebook, Totspot has a news feed and nurtures a community. "Just like Mom and Dad," the site reads, "junior gets a profile on TotSpot, complete with status updates, real time updates in an activity stream, and a beautiful assortment of themes."
But it is not just like mom and dad. Mom and dad can make conscious decision about what their status should be, who they want to be connected to or what pictures they like or dislike. By creating a separate junior profile for them to use, they are extending their own presence online.
Don't get me wrong—I highly appreciate the value of community photo-sharing sites, and avidly use Picasa, Twitter and YouTube. When it comes to kids, however, don't we have to take a step back and think about the repercussions of our actions?