Children are now ‘leaving’ a digital footprint before birth

8 Oct 2010

Children are embarking on their first digital baby steps online before they are even born, with parents uploading sonogram photos on Facebook. The majority of children in 10 developed countries have an online presence before the age of two.

IT security firm AVG surveyed 2,200 mothers with children under the age of two and found that 92pc of toddlers in the US have a digital footprint.

The overall average was 81pc, while in Europe the average was 73pc.

According to AVG, most of the children’s online footprints started, on average, at six months of age, and a third had photos and other information posted online within weeks of being born.

Some 7pc of babies and toddlers had email addresses set up by parents and 5pc had a social networking profile set up.

Blogged before birth

Some 25pc of mothers post their baby’s sonogram picture online. The highest instance of this was in Canada, with 37pc of mothers, followed by the US, with 34pc.

AVG’s CEO, JR Smith, described the findings as “sobering” when you consider the average 30-year-old today has a digital footprint extending back 10 or 15 years, at most.

“We’re in the age where online social tools are a standard form of communicating and sharing with friends and family online, especially among women in their 20s and 30s, is common practice.

“However, what’s a sobering thought is the fact that many parents are creating online profiles and email addresses (7pc, according to our research) for their babies and toddlers. Indeed, there is even a toy that has been developed allowing your toddler to access Twitter!

“While it’s natural to share this proud moment with people who are close to you, this does emphasise the need to review your social network privacy settings.

“Regrettably, it only takes a few minutes to find unprotected baby albums and even pictures of antenatal scans on Facebook that are open to the wider online world, so we have put together a guide on how to secure your Facebook privacy.

“It’s important for parents today to realise they are creating an online dossier for a human being that will be with them for years to come. 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?” Smith asked.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years