Mutterings of a Fool

Man, Dad, Runner, Chief dog walker

The digital lives of our children

Matilda playing with phoneIt fascinates me how different Matilda and Henry’s childhoods are with regards to technology compared to mine and how they will no doubt live much more digital lives. Matilda like many toddlers is well adept at unlocking my iPhone, scrolling the screen side to side and most recently knowing how to type on the keyboard.

She may not know exactly what it means but I’m sure that won’t be long. That use of touch also translates to laptops and TV’s where she can’t quite understand why she’s not able to do things by touching the screen. Amazing how to her generation touch is just a given, something logical and expected.

But it’s not just the use of technology that is different for her, like it or not your children will feature somewhere in a photo on the internet already. Their lives have been captured in words and photo’s in multiple locations and they aren’t even 2 years old yet. Can you imagine how much will have built up by the time they are officially allowed a Facebook account?

It feels like we are in a time of feasting, gorging ourselves on the rapid expansion in ways to communicate and share with each other. Even on a normal day you might write a blog post featuring your children, tweet about them, upload a photo to Streamzoo or Instagram, mention them on Facebook, share photos with family via Google+, email colleagues or friends photos or stories about them, add a photo of them on a shared photo stream on your iOS device, the list goes on.

And that’s just a standard day.

How many other ways are you creating a digital footprint for them? Photos uploaded to Photobucket to be printed? Backing up photos to cloud storage? Guest post on someone else’s blog and include a photo? I’m sure there’s more.

Matilda reading a KindleHow many of these places do we really have control and fully understand what happens to the data we share? Once it’s ‘out there’ and someone has looked at your Streamzoo feed on their phone there is a little imprint of your data on their phone and bang control is gone.

It feels to me that we are somewhere near the peak in this explosion of data sharing, there will be a point in the not too distant future when we start reducing how freely we share. The recent stories with the Instagram terms and people getting sued for sharing on Twitter are the first signs of this in my opinion. We may even look back on this time with regret.

But do you care? I for one have always made sure not to put surnames when I mention my children so you can’t search for them. But beyond that I’m as guilty as the next person. Are you conscious of sharing data through all these places? Or just accept that is the digital world we now live in? Do you think we’re fast approaching a time when people will start to pull back from sharing?

As I wrote this it also occurred to me that perhaps there is a business opportunity here. Wouldn’t it be cool to have a service that would compile the photos and writing about your children from all these locations into some sort of ebook? A modern day baby book if you like that captures truly everything that happens to your child. The day they wee’d on your leg, how they smiled on 7th February 2012, the day they did the smelliest nappy. You know, the important things.



  1. Something I wondered about a lot when I started blogging was how much I should mention the kids by name, what pictures I should post etc. I think it depends on the type of content, and where it’s going. I’m generally more open on Facebook, which is a bit less public (in theory!) than on Twitter. Then again I put stuff on my blog that I wouldn’t put directly onto Twitter then tweet a link, so maybe I’m overthinking it all a bit?

    • I think once you click publish on any of these places it’s in the public domain, I’m just not sure we have all quite thought through the implications of that?

  2. The internet really scares me (due to lack of knowledge I’m sure) and therefore I don’t put photos of my kids online unless you cant see their faces and I don’t use their names. However this is only my preference,I have no really valid reasons for it other than fear of not having control over them as you say.

    • That’s a perfectly valid approach, I thought about using nicknames but really couldn’t be bothered with it. It does niggle at me though whether we’re sharing too much

  3. I was thinking this very recently with all the fake twitter accounts and things. Every so often I reign myself in and only put up obscure pics of z so as not to have him “out there”, then relax over time and go through the same cycle.

  4. Totally know what you mean. O does the same, asking to watch Rastamouse and Timmy Time on the iPad. Certainly not what we grew up with.

    As for the photos, I wouldn’t post one of my child in the bath or running about the garden naked, but for any other generic photo, I guess if someone else gets their hands on it, so what. If someone wanted to do something untoward to a child, I don’t think possessing a photo of them would make then more likely to do it. Other than that aspect I really don’t care if someone makes money from a photo I’ve taken . Almost every service that people love and then complain about are free. They have to make their money somehow.

    • Agree on the naked photos, the money thing does annoy me a little when it’s so heavily weighted against users as the Instagram terms were going to be. But for me it’s more that we’re creating all these digital records that will just sit there.

  5. i like the ebook idea but i do agree with you sometimes it freaks it me out how much people share with WHOEVER!

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