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What age is right for a digital identity?

Image by Master OSM 2011 Flickr CC

To share or not to share, that is the question. Facebook has put this dilemma to parents this week, with the launch of a new “scrapbook” feature, which allows parents to create a profile tag for a child.

Facebook noticed that parents were tagging each other on photos of their children. But the photos being shared make it hard for parents to manage photo collections. By creating a page for the child, these photos can be marshalled into one location. It’s a profile page for children in all but name, managed by parents. Currently under 13s are not permitted their own profile.

As boundaries between the online and offline worlds have begun to merge, we need to start grappling with how we treat our digital presence. Putting aside digital naysayers, there’s an increasing feeling that if it’s not online, then it doesn’t exist. And the same applies to people. Like all technologies, the online world is as good as your interaction and use of it, with positives ranging from establishing social connections, generating business, engaging in activism and trading in digital currency. There are grey areas such as when universities and employers check websites and social media to learn more about prospective candidates. That’s great if they are viewing a carefully crafted online CV, but historic tweets or long forgotten Facebook photos can come back to haunt future life.

Just as parents are responsible for teaching children how to conduct themselves in public in a socially suitable manner, and how to keep themselves safe, parents need to understand that offering digital guidance and education to children is an important element of their parenting duties. How to create a profile, how to manage it, how to interact in the digital space and how to maintain safety, security and reputation should not be left to chance nor excused through parental ignorance.

(Via The National)

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