Great post from Geek Dad about protecting your kid’s identity online and in the general virtual world (including credit score, etc.):
1. Create a Google user account for your child’s name if possible — Most of us didn’t even know what Google was in 1996, but here we are, 16 years later, and I think it’s safe to say that the company’s future appears strong. Just about everyone I know uses one or more of Google’s services, with email and the search engine being the two most obvious. Add in Calendar, Google Docs, and dozens more services and you’ll likely agree that even if these services evolve over time, they’ll all likely require some sort of user account. I’ve created user accounts for both my sons, with easy to remember (at least to me) names. When the time comes, each of them will have a Google user account, complete with Gmail and Calendar and other services ready to go.
2. Register a domain using your child’s full name — do this before someone else grabs it. Your child may never have need for me will make all the other kids in the class rue the day their mommies and daddies ignored the advice of GeekDad.com. (“Rue the day? Who talks like that?”) Seriously, though — unless there’s a some major way in which the Internet will work, the Domain Name System (DNS) is here to stay. If your child has a common name, you’re likely to find the domain already taken, but check it out anyway. It sure beats having to pay someone hundreds or thousands of dollars years from now when your child finds it available to purchase from a domain squatter.
3. Lock in your child’s Facebook and other social service accounts — MySpace is pretty much gone along with other social services that just couldn’t stick. And while there’s no guarantee that Facebook will be with us in 10 or 20 years, why risk it? Kids aren’t supposed to use Facebook until age 13 (but they’ll find ways around that), so remove the possibility of another child creating a fake account in your own child’s name by grabbing it now. As with Google, Facebook’s future still looks bright, so odds are that your child may reach the legal age to use the service before something else comes around that’s all the rage with the kids. And it really does make a great place to post pictures and videos of your child for other family members to view — just remember to lock down the security by only allowing Friends to view the account. And of course, this same advice applies to other popular services such as Twitter, Foursquare, etc. You may not use them (I consider deleting my FB account at least once a month), but that doesn’t mean your child won’t find them of interest. And even if you think they won’t be around in 10 or more years, they may evolve into something even better — grab the name and keep the password stored somewhere safe.
4. Start your child’s EV Car account — Not every kid gets or deserves a car at age 16, but my mom and dad really benefited from helping me buy my first (used) car — I had to take my brother and sister to school and I had to get a job (basically staying out of trouble), keep it gassed up, and keep my grades high. Cars haven’t gotten cheaper since then either. If you’re like me and pondering this future purchase, consider that making a deposit of just $2,000 the first year of your child’s life and adding in a follow-up deposit of $500 every year until age 16, at 4% annual growth you’ll end up with approximately $15,000.00. This should be more than enough to buy your child a slightly used all-electric vehicle with a maximum travel distance of 30 to 40 miles (older batteries), guaranteeing they only make it to school and back with no crossing of county lines.
5. Create your child’s own Permanent Record starting today — cloud services are popular today, but one shouldn’t trust them completely by storing family videos and photos only in one location. Consider purchasing a mini SSD (solid state drive) that can be stored in a safe deposit box. Once a quarter or once a year, upload all your family photos and videos to it and then put it back in the box for safe keeping. One day your grown child (and possibly his/her spouse ) will appreciate the historical record you’ve maintained. For bonus points, consider buying a personal scanner such as a Doxie Go or ScanSnap and throw in some high resolution scans of their artwork, report cards, and other memorabilia. Lately I’ve been scanning some of my 4.5 year old’s letter and word writing sheets; it’s chicken scratch, but it’s my kid’s chicken scratch and totally worth the few seconds it takes to scan in.
As the blog author James Floyd Kelly mentions, these aren’t going to be for everybody, but I also agree that all of these tips are seriously worth considering. Even if your 5-year-old isn’t on Facebook now, what will happen in 10 years? Just food for thought.