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Business - Written by on Wednesday, February 18, 2009 10:02 - 4 Comments

Born Digital — will children grow up to regret their parent’s actions

Caught an interesting editorial in the Guardian about the propensity of new parents to post birth announcements and images of their newborns on social networking sites, often within minutes of an actual birth.

My five-week-old son has had over 1,400 individual visitors to his website. Within two hours of his birth, he was Twittered because a friend got a text message announcing his birth. In a matter of days his name was indexed in Google. A friend’s five-month-old already has a Facebook page. Anecdotally, I find that a favourite pastime of many new dads in my peer group is electronic communication involving their newborns. Maybe it’s a way to connect both to the newborn and to the outside world during what is a cocooning and potentially isolating time. Maybe it helps dads become involved. Whatever the reason, most new babies these days are “born digital,” to borrow a phrase. What it will mean when they grow up, I’m not sure, but it changes something fundamental about who your little one is in the world. He has a public persona often before he can hold up his own head.

The author notes that when friends and families live far apart, the immediacy of online communication is a powerful way to share in the birth. But will these “born digital” children grow up to regret their parents enthusiasm to chronicle the early stages of their lives online? Or, will this level of personal transparency be seen as completely natural by the time they are old enough to voice an opinion? Perhaps it already is.


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Ari Herzog
Feb 19, 2009 1:53

About three years ago, some friends of mine who gave birth to a child immediately began posting pictures on Flickr. Looking back, you can see uploaded pictures nearly every day. That beats the photo album my parents kept.

I don’t know if the kids will feel awkward in the future, but if a significant number of their peers are in the same boat, I don’t see a problem. After all, we can always blame “The Truman Show.”

Feb 19, 2009 21:52

I have a 7-month old granddaughter who has been born digital. Yes, pictures were shared on Facebook within several hours of her birth, and yes, her parents continue to use FB to share videos and photos of their first child. What a marvelous way for families to stay in touch!

As Ari said, by the time these little ones grow up, the digitalization of their lives will be so common they will think nothing of it.

Alan Majer
Feb 20, 2009 13:27

With people posting ultrasound photos, a baby’s appearance on facebook/flickr often starts before their birth.

Wikinomics – The Net Gen: Too plugged-in for parenting?
Jun 18, 2010 7:13

[...] In other cases, the activities raise new issues and question about appropriateness such as creating digital identities for children the moment they are born, or using Google and other online sites to diagnose children and chronicle [...]

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