Cross-posted from Social Studies...
My two-year old son has a Facebook page. He loves to update his status, share his favorite books and music, and share pictures from his trips to the zoo and Disney World. When he uploads videos to YouTube, he often sends his grandparents e-mails from his very own Gmail account.
Of course, it’s really his mom and I posting all of this intimate information for the world to see. In fact, before he was born, my wife and I registered both of our boy and girl baby names in Gmail to be sure we had them reserved. We were staking out our offspring’s digital property before birth.
And yes, we’ve had a discussion about the line between private and public. We don’t include last names, locations or personal information. We assume that by age 8 or so we’ll turn over the username and password to his e-mail and social network accounts (what Phil Wilson calls a social mitzvah), just like my parents gave me my very own house key at that age.
But why? Why are we compelled to experiment with our own little Truman Show?
Our family and friends are spread across the country and rarely get together. Social media tools allow my parents in Florida to see my son’s first tooth. Facebook allows his aunts and uncles to “friend” him and instantly be notified of his status updates in a social medium they prefer over e-mail for information. Web cams allow us to video chat with anyone with an Internet connection. And when I travel for work, I’m able to check in and see his smile firsthand (just like in the commercials…awww).
Social media continues to offer us the tools to break down geographical barriers and open an unparalleled level of interpersonal communication.
Yesterday’s New York Times had a great article titled “Twittering From the Cradle” that lists social network sites like TotSpot, Kidmondo and Lil’Grams that give parents the tools to share firsts, memorable moments and minutiae with everyone or a select list.
As digital natives begin becoming parents, it only makes sense they will apply these social mediums to their kids’ lives. But don’t feel bad if you keep a baby book made of paper or like to print off your digital photos; we’re still a few years out from virtual preschool.
However, if you’re going to register your pet on Dogster.com to digitally befriend pooches from the dog park, surely your kids deserve a digital playdate, too.
Where do things go from here? We haven’t bought my son his .name URL quite yet. Maybe the next one.