With tons of kids going back to school in the last week, we once again see a slew of pictures from proud parents. All over social sites we see little tikes getting on and off the bus, posing in their new clothes and all excited to get to school. It’s a very innocent and customary thing to do. I remember my mom doing it when I was younger.
Before the internet, you had to take pictures with an actual camera and then drive the camera to a store for the pictures to be developed. My mom kept those pictures, maybe sharing a set of doubles with my grandparents, right? Other than that, no one saw me getting on the bus the first day of kindergarten. The technology has changed so fast even though it wasn’t that long ago. Digital photography with a WiFi connection is a total game-changer. When they get posted on the internet, those images are given to that site and any third-party to which that site is affiliated.
As I’ve written previously, my wife and I have a young son. I’m inspired to learn how to best proceed when speaking about him or posting pictures or video of him online. To date, we’ve been very conservative about that. It’s encouraging to see the growing concern and discernment of parents in this regard. We are seeing a growing number of companies demanding one’s login information to certain sites when hiring. Is this the future? Will there be a section reserved for your Facebook login information on job applications? Will passwords for our email address be a permanent fixture on our resume? That is the direction we are heading.
Then there’s the very real concern of cyberstalking-pedophiles. Facebook, particularly has proven to be an effective tool for these monsters. Parents post their home address, pictures of their children, the school they attend, etc. That is a whole crazy topic of discussion itself.
We’re in a brand new world. Adults are learning as they go, intoxicated by the fun and seducing qualities of all the exciting technology. We’re slowly growing up, though. As in life, it’s not about saying “it’s time to grow up, no more fun.” It’s just time to realize that while we’ve been having fun the party got a little out of control. But I believe you gotta have fun in life. That doesn’t seem to be a common part of the conversation when talking about online privacy and the invasions of it.
That’s all Clear Your Tracks is about, though. It’s like when I explain to my son why it’s a good idea for him to wear a helmet when he rides his bike. We have the conversation; then he’s set. He can now spend the rest of his time having fun on his bike. He’s not consciously burdened with all the reasons running through his head on why to wear a helmet. You learn some tools and ideas that help you do a thing responsibly, and then you have fun doing it. We’re going to continue to learn all sorts of strange behaviors and programs currently in play on the internet. As of today, there are a countless number of them. And they’ll keep coming from all different directions. It’s just a part of life. That’s not the problem. We can handle that. By the fact that a problem has presented itself means that there is a solution to discover. We’ll continue to probe all these issues and find the best solutions.
Preventing your child’s digital footprint is a challenge. After careful thought, it’s also something you may decide is a necessary challenge. It’s clearing your tracks and your child’s tracks while also considering potential paths we may not want them on at all if we knew where it could lead.
Just food for thought from a concerned father.