/ Parenting, Technology

Should toddlers be on social networking sites?

Baby at computer

More than three quarters of children over the age of two have some kind of online presence. Are we living in a world gone mad or is this just par for the course for today’s toddlers?

I had to chuckle when I read about a new study into how much ‘online presence’ today’s toddlers have.

AVG questioned over 2,000 mothers worldwide and got some rather amusing stats back.

I could have said ‘shocking’ in that last sentence, but considering the activities of the many mums in my social group, I wasn’t really shocked by the findings at all.

Sharing is normal

So what’s the story? Well apparently, 81% of all children under the age of two have some kind of online presence – ranging from photos uploaded by parents, to a fully-fledged profile on a social networking site.

Is that really so hard to believe? Let’s be realistic – very few of us live in the same town as all our friends and family nowadays. Putting photos on Flickr, Facebook and the like is the quickest and most convenient way for everyone to stay in touch – and speed is key when most of your time’s being consumed by a young baby.

Ok, creating a Facebook profile for your newborn child is taking things a bit too far – but how many really do this? As I thought, not that many – only 5% admitted they’d created an online profile for their child. That’s a relief.

Creating little online footprints

I have to admit that I did stop and consider the implications before I first shared my baby’s pictures on Facebook… Was it fair to create an ‘online footprint’ she wasn’t aware of? What if she objected when she was older?

But (just like adults who haven’t created profiles on social networking sites) other people will still upload and share their photos – chances are that some of my daughter will slip in eventually. And social networking will be even more prevalent by the time she’s a teenager – as a true ‘digital native’ she’s unlikely to even question the existence of these images online.

Still, there are limits. Nearly a quarter of parents also upload prenatal sonograms to the web. Again, this is something I can confirm as reasonably common practise from my group of friends.

Do we really need to see a blurry picture of your bump? Personally, I can live quite happily without it and wait to meet your bundle of joy in person. After all, technology’s great, but it can’t replace the real thing.

Hayley says:
11 October 2010

Its an interesting one isnt it. I’m careful with what I post of my son online and try to limit what I do post. Never in a million years would I create a profile for him but I have friends that their children have their *own* twitter/facebook accounts. Quite frankly I find that weird! Its like a splitpersonality of the parent! Its scary!

Theres no way to escape the fact that in this day and age with friends all over the world your going to get some pictures end up online so that your distant relatives can see your children. But maybe in time we will swing the opposite way and have a blackout on all children across the internet?

A friend recently revealed that he’d bulk uploaded an album of family photos to flickr without realising that one of the photos was of his kids in the bath. It had received tens of thousands of views before he hastily took it down.

I still share images and videos of my kids online, but I vet them much more carefully before doing so.

I’d love to see a 2 year old updating their site, tying with their tiny fingers,
no wait – wait – I’ve had a thought!

Maybe its their mothers?

OK, speaking as someone who’s not a parent I find the idea of parents creating online profiles for their children just a little bit weird.

Posting personal information is fine but you really have to think about who can see it by checking the privacy and security controls on the site you are using. Whilst some people may argue that you expose your children to the outside world on a daily basis, the online world is slightly different in that, unless you’re in complete control of your privacy and security settings, you cannot see who you are exposing them to.