A digital identity question for parents

An interesting question is raised by a Design Pattern problem, Others First, identified by Yishay Mor in the Pattern Language Network wiki:

Parents who create an online identity for themselves that includes any images of and text about their children inevitably create an online identity for those children. The children have no control over how they are presented or who they are presented to.

I include images of my child in online repositories, some open some private. So this led me to ask whether the problem identified, for it is a problem, was expressed to address a narrow and particular issue or a broad and general issue.

The particular issue:

  • a) incorporating children in a primary signifiers of online identity, e.g. having a username and log in something like “babynameDad” with an image of a child in the avatar; or

a broad and general issue:

  • b) uploading images and writings about children to various online portfolios (Flickr, LiveJournal, Facebook, etc).

And on reflection, is there a difference between the incorporation of children into a Facebook identity, and the inclusion of family snaps in the Flickr album? Is it only a matter of degree, or is the explicitly intended, overt act of self-conscious identity development different from the accretion of items (on and offline) to our habitus as we navigate our lifecourse, with or without children?

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