It’s 2 am. I’m lying on the floor of my son’s room for the third night in a row. I’m pretty sure I’m doing a terrible job as a mother since I’m not letting him “cry it out” like all the sleep books instructed. To make myself feel better, I pick up my phone and post an angelic picture of my son on Facebook. With each notification of activity on my post, I am lulled into a state of contentment. Perhaps I am a great mom after all…This is the reality of how little thought I put into creating my son’s digital footprint. My need for affirmation and Facebook community cheerleading completely trounced any consideration of my two year old son’s eventual preferences around privacy. And on the one hand, this is understandable, because this isn’t a conversation I had with my own mother. We didn’t sit around the dinner table and delve into how it made me feel for my moms’ friends to ogle at a picture of me in my diaper with a colander on my head. However, with the advent of social media and a generation of millennial mothers who grew up in the digital world, the sphere of friends – and sometimes strangers – who can ogle at pictures of my son is larger than ever. As a parent it is my responsibility to think through decisions that may impact my son’s safety and set an example for how he will behave in both the real and digital sphere.
For those millennial moms, who like myself, didn’t have a template for these conversations and decision trees, there’s AT&T's Digital You®. This website provides tips on, what I will call, “digital baby-proofing” and helps you to learn about ways you might be unknowingly oversharing information about your child. For example, this resource called "Young Children and Digital Footprints."
For those with older children, Digital You® has numerous guides for conversations on the Parents and Caregivers page that you can have first with your partner to ensure you are aligned, then with your kids. The curriculum, created with many experts like the Family Online Safety Institute, empowers kids to make better choices by instilling empathy and providing a better sense of long term consequences of online behaviors.
While I know my son has a while to go before I can coach him on curating his digital presence, I can model being more deliberate and thoughtful about what I put out on the Internet about myself and the family. And more importantly, I can work to develop a more intrinsic sense that I’m doing a good job as mom and not need those Facebook accolades. So, I’d like to give millennial moms a big pat on the back for navigating this new digital landscape and wish all moms a Happy Mother’s Day!
KEYWORDS: Responsible Production & Consumption, Innovation & Technology, Mother's Day, AT&T, Digital You, digital footprint, millennial, Facebook, Digital Parenting, oversharing, online reputation, mom