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

Category: Media & Technology
Published on Feb 18, 2009

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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