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Social media wrap: The pitter patter of digital footprints -- remember, Obama warned you

October 8, 2010 |  7:26 am

Child_digital_footprintAny aspiring politician knows better than to have a Facebook page filled with pictures from their past that are, let’s say, a little embarrassing. 

You know, the ones that President Obama warned young wannabe presidents about: Pictures of them lying flat out after a drinking session, burping in their sleep with a bit of spit-up on their collar and dribble down their chin.  

But what if instead of a boozy pal or ex-girlfriend tagging pics of a future pol in varying states of consciousness (and indeed undress), it was their doting mother?     

Apparently, 7% of babies have a Facebook page set up for them by a parent or guardian, according to a new social-media study. Incredibly, the average child -- aspiring politician or not -- acquires a digital footprint by the age of 6 months.

While Twitter founder Evan Williams’ wife, Sara Morishige, created a bit of a social-media stir by tweeting the birth of her first child last year, now such actions are commonplace.  

Nearly a third of children have had their images posted online from birth and about 7% have had an e-mail address created for them by a grown-up. More than 70% of mothers said they posted baby and toddler images online to share with friends or family.  

It’s perhaps unsurprising that by age 2, about 81% of children have some kind of “digital footprint.”

A quarter of parents even posted pre-birth scans of their unborn kids to the Internet, the survey ...

... of parents in the U.S., Europe and Asia by digital security firm AVG revealed.  

While raising serious issues including privacy, identity, cyber safety and even exploitation, it's too good an opportunity not to look at how these stats panned out in relation to my own first child born just three weeks ago (that’s my baby Solomon’s digital footprint above).

So here goes (in chronological order):

1) Seemingly a long, long time ago now, I posted on Facebook the news that my wife was pregnant immediately after we’d called our respective parents. My wife was not entirely pleased (see No. 3). 

2) We did not post pics of his pre-birth scans to Facebook but were very tempted.  We did send them to our respective parents by e-mail.

3) I was banned from Facebook during my wife’s entire labor and shortly thereafter. Although my mother-in-law posted on my Facebook page to ask how things were going, I had to reply that I was under strict orders only to give updates by cellphone to family and close friends.  

4) I took pics of my newborn with my iPhone and sent them to our respective parents within six minutes of my son’s birth. 

5) I posted to Facebook pictures of my son (but not my wife -- again, I was under strict instructions) within 24 hours. Or after I’d recovered.

6) A picture of Solomon swaddled in blankets remains my profile picture, where previously mostly I’d used comical images of the family dog. He’s also the wife’s profile picture. 

7) No e-mail address or Facebook page yet. But he is only 3 weeks old. Maybe when he learns to use a computer (so at about six months then). 

Are we crazy? Of course we’re crazy, we’ve got a newborn crying down the house at all hours, demanding frequent feeding while screaming for attention and a bottle. 

A bit like your average politician.

-- Craig Howie

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Image: My child's digital footprint. Credit: Craig Howie