Thinking About My Daughter’s Growing Digital Footprint

I’ve been thinking recently about L’s digital footprint. As someone who shares a big part of my life online – by association – a lot of her 3.5-years on the planet have also been publicly documented. This is something I’m increasingly worried about. By putting her out there, have I inadvertently impacted her future life? It’s difficult to tell right now, but it’s made me consider what changes I need to make in order to better protect her as she gets older.

Our digital footprint is created by what we do online – every photo uploaded, every ‘like’ given, every tweet written and every form filled in. Every interaction and action is recorded, logged and likely to remain forever – even when deleted afterwards. It’s become so easy to share things on the internet without thinking about the repercussions.

The likes of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram see us willingly share the fun and boring everyday moments with the world. Everything is so public and common sense often goes out of the window – for instance, some parents share back to school photos with their kid’s school badge clearly visible. I don’t wish to be sensationalist about it, but seeing their name, face and school could put their kid in danger when the intention was just to share a proud milestone with friends and family. It’s scary when you think about what we openly share.

I’ve always tried to remain a bit semi-anonymous when it comes to blogging. I don’t really advertise where we live or our surname – although both are probably out there. Similarly, when it comes to L, I’ve aimed to protect her name by just using an initial so that she can’t be Googled. This makes me feel better as I’ve put a few safety nets in place, but ultimately, it wouldn’t be difficult to find out these details if someone really wanted to. It’s not that hard to do a bit of digging.

And that’s the crux of the issue. I’ve purposefully shared information about us in the public domain for blog purposes. I don’t regret the individual stories or photos I’ve shared, but it’s pretty scary when you think about the amalgamation of this information and what it says about us. People are able to see places we visit, locations we’ve been on holiday, cars we’ve owned, stuff we have in the house, embarrassing stories, milestones achieved bla bla bla. As a blogger, I’ve actively chosen to do this, I made the decision to share my life in this way.

L hasn’t though. Because of me, she has a huge digital footprint and she’s not even reached 4-years old. Already, there’s thousands of photos of her online which are accompanied by blog posts documenting her growing up. She’s had no say in this whatsoever. Does that make me selfish? Am I irresponsible? Have I inadvertently put her at risk? Will she be bullied in the future because of it? Will she be embarrassed about what’s out there? Could it impact her when it comes to things like jobs or relationships?

I just don’t know. It’s unclear how our online decisions now will impact the future and how technology will play a role. All I know is that she has a much bigger digital footprint than she should do for her age – and that’s down to me. It can make you feel pretty shitty when you think of it like that. I’ve enjoyed documenting and sharing our lives in this way, but the uncertainty about what it means in the future – for L, particularly – worries me. Maybe I’ve been watching too much Black Mirror?!

So what does this mean? Well, I intend to make a few changes. The main one being that I’ve decided to stop sharing recognisable photos of L. She’ll continue to feature heavily – after all, The DADventurer is about my life as a dad – but in terms of photos, they won’t show her face. As she starts school in September and has lost that ‘all babies and toddlers look the same’ thing, I think it’s sensible to provide protection and anonymity. After all, she never asked to be plastered all over the internet.

With our little lad on the way, again, he’ll have an abbreviated moniker instead of his real name just to make it that bit more difficult if anyone ever wishes to search. I’m also going to be more cautious about what I share from the get-go – the likelihood is that I won’t be posting as many photos, and these will stop showing his face when he gets that bit older and more recognisable. Hell, he’s not even here yet and I’ve already shared his photo!

In reality, for those reading or occasionally perusing, it won’t feel like much has changed as the content will remain the same – you’ll probably just be looking at the back of L’s head rather than the front. I’ll kno w that it’s changed though. I feel like putting a stop to L’s growing digital footprint and not allowing the little lad’s to get out of hand, is an important decision to make and one I should have considered more when I started the blog. Still, we live and we learn, eh?!

What’s your views on your kid(s) digital footprint(s)? Is it something you worry about? Are you careful about what you and they share online? Let me know below.