I wonder, do we have an obligation to our children to protect their digital identities both now and for their futures?

I remember when I moved to Washington, D.C. right out of college. One of the first things I did as a part of the interview process was remove any and all questionable Facebook photos from my time in undergrad.

Whether it was a picture of some ridiculous fraternity antic or because I or someone else looked overly inebriated, I deleted the photos so my potential employers wouldn’t find them.

Looking back now, I realize I had no idea what I was doing. I just did the best I could to remove anything that didn’t look professional. And, in some regard, I was pretty lucky. I’d only been on social media for a year at that point.

I started thinking about my first job search after reading an NPR article that said the CIA is running into problems with the “digital dust” of its clandestine officers. Many recruits coming out of college have years and years of digital activity in their pasts making it difficult to keep their identities under wraps. While at the same time having to create extensive online persona’s so as to not raise red flags.

This really got me thinking about the number of children born every day whose lives are being documented across digital platforms from their very first day on earth. How many of the young people graduating this spring will have upwards of 10-15 years worth of social media presence to consider as they begin looking for jobs?

I wonder, do we have an obligation to our children to protect their digital identities both now and for their futures?

I have a friend who has chosen to ask her eight-year-old niece before she posts a picture of her online. I like that—giving the child a choice. Yet, it’s a lot to ask of a child to make good choices about what is posted about him or her online.

Even as a parent I think it’s tough to know what is best.

However, I think having a clear picture of what information is out there, who can see this information, and what can be done with it is a good place to start. Because as parents we want to share how much we love our children with other friends and family who are too far away to see it themselves. In some regards, this is the backbone of what makes social media great.

And yet, it is so important we follow the digital dust so we can both watch our children grow up safely in a digital world and give them every opportunity to follow their dreams once they are grown.

Hueya isn’t here only for your protection. We are here for your children’s protection as well.

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