Love it or hate it, Eric Qualman’s series of YouTube clips illustrating the size of social media is immensely popular.
If you haven’t watched any of the clips online, chances are you’ve seen one at a conference or training session.
The video has a 2013 version and I’ve shared this latest iteration below:
One of the more fresh lines that interested me was “92% of children under the age of 2 have a digital shadow”. There are no sources cited and one can only assume this relates to the United States. What’s a digital shadow? It’s essentially a build up online content relating to you that can act as a personal profile available to others, whether you’re aware of it or not. It’s sometimes called a ‘digital footprint’.
I’ve written on this topic before, in Who will remember the children? where I discussed my part in building an online profile for my sons without their consent. This went on to a front page story on InDaily.
My sons aren’t big social media users yet – they’re too young and also somewhat disinterested. However there are dozens of photos of them online, and plenty of anecdotes, thanks to my own sharing. As a parent, it’s natural to want to show off your kids. And I’ve done that aplenty! But it occurred to me that they may not appreciate all the photos and stories I’ve shared, when they’re older and have time to look back and reflect on what I’ve said about them.
Looking at my friends’ Facebook activity where they regularly share images and stories of their kids, I have no doubt that many children do indeed have a large digital shadow.
This is still a topic that hasn’t been debated widely but if you’re a parent, it’s worth thinking about. Would you like your parents to have written the same thing about you? Are there some things which aren’t safe to share? Are there some photographs best kept in the private family album?
Finally, it’s fun to see the Socionomics parody on Eric Qualman’s channel too. See it below: