Soleil’s Digital Future Will Be Her Own


Earlier this week I shared that I’m posting less photos of my daughter Soleil online. It’s part of a conscious effort to be mindful about how my actions and attitudes will shape her digital future.

It’s just stunning how quickly time flies. I remember holding her in my arms when she was three days old. She literally fit between my wrist and elbow.

Daddy Holds Soleil

In just three months, she will be two years old. And many of you have seen her become a toddler before your eyes on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

My baby talks to me now. We have conversations about all the things she sees. Soleil points at them and tells me what they are in three and four word sentences (not all English). She’s becoming a little girl faster than I could have imagined, and that’s prompting these changes.

Soleil’s online life will be a fabric that integrates into her very being. For her, social networking will be something as natural as breathing.

Yet, as an adult I often see how my parents and grandparents’ decisions (and their ancestors, too) affected me positively and negatively. So I want to respect her future, and keep open as many possibilities as she could want.

Her privacy is important now as photos can be indexed forever, providing embarrassing moments for the ages. And frankly there are a lot of creeps out there.

Still it’s tempting to store digital moments in time. The above video shows a father who emailed his daughter all of her memories via Gmail. This is something I do want to offer Soleil. So I keep most of my special Soleil photos on Flickr with the family and friends only setting.

But it goes deeper. How much search monitoring do I set up? Do I register her Twitter, Facebook, Google+ presences and more?

I decided to stop at buying her domain names. For all I know, she won’t want to be on those networks. It’s the equivalent of hanging out on AOL or MySpace. Who am I to say?

Soleil Discusses Breaking Down the Siloes
Soleil supports Marketing in the Round teammate Gini Dietrich with a Chicago Cubs T-Shirt.

More importantly, as she begins to access the Internet, how do I teach her how to find and consume information, and how much should I teach her about avoiding high risk behavior?

Would I give a teenage son the keys to a Porsche? No. Just as I monitor the media she consumes, including her screen time with Elmo, I need to be online during her first steps to teach safe and unsafe behavior.

At the same time — while I will try to instill smart decision making with her digital profiles so she doesn’t hurt her future, and bring bad people into her life — she will and should make her own decisions.

In the end, Soleil’s digital future will be her own.

Thank you, Shira Levine, Jason Keath, Dave Webb, Dan Jeffers and Shaun Dakin for contributing the links sourced in this post.

What do you think? How do you teach children about their digital future?