Today’s world is about being connected. Apparently some parents believe that can’t start too soon: new research shows that 7% of babies and toddlers have their very own email address.
A full 92% of U.S. kids have some sort of online presence by their second birthday, which sounds astounding until you stop to wonder who the 8% of parents are who haven’t gotten around to sharing digital pics of their cuties. (More on Time.com: 5 Pregnancy Taboos Explained (or Debunked))
AVG, an Internet security firm, surveyed 2,200 mothers with Internet access and children under 2 in the U.S., England, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Japan. When they inquired about their children’s cyberpresence, researchers learned that one-third of U.S. women set their children’s course for the World Wide Web before their kids even enter this world by uploading ultrasound images.
Their motives are mostly pure — 70% said they simply want to share their kids’ photogenic qualities with friends and family — yet AVG’s chief executive J.R. Smith cautions that this “digital dossier” could come back to haunt them at a later date. “It’s important for parents today to realize they are creating an online dossier for a human being that will be with them for years to come,” Smith says in a blog post. “It’s worth considering what kind of digital footprint or online history you want to leave for your child. And when your child is a teenager or adult, what will they make of the information you are currently uploading now?” (More on Time.com: “Mompetition”: Why You Just Can’t Make Mom Friends)
The juvenile Internet hoo-ha doesn’t stop there. Gung-ho Twitter-parents might thrill to news of a toy that can access the microblogging site. The Twoddler connects a Fisher-Price activity center (hope this wasn’t one of the 10 million toys recalled last week by the company) outfitted with pics of relatives and friends to a Twitter account; when baby plays with the toy, various actions trigger an automated Twitter update. Created as part of a class on “mobile and pervasive computing” at Hasselt University in Belgium, the Twoddler works as follows, according to its creators:
“The software captures sensor data from the activity center and tries to select a predefined text that is related to that sensor data. For example: when Yorin plays with mommy’s picture for over 3 minutes, a twitter message will be posted saying ‘@mommy_yorin Yorin misses mommy and looks forward playing with her this evening,’ or when Yorin is hitting the doorbell button four times in a row, a twitter message will be posted saying ‘Yorin is showing off his music skills with a new tune.’”
The techie toy took top honors at the Innovative and Creative Applications (INCA) 2009 awards. The jury was impressed with what it called “a good, well implemented idea, with a lot of potential…that allows people/children that are not capable of verbal communication to communicate through an inventive combination of hardware and software.”
Alas, don’t bother adding the Twoddler to your holiday gift list. As of now, it’s only a prototype that’s not available for purchase.
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