There’s no privacy nowadays for even the tiniest members of society, with a survey revealing that eight out of ten children have some sort of online presence before they reach two years old.
Indeed, says security firm AVG, a quarter actually have their photos posted online before they’re born, in the form of a sonogram. In the US, the figure is even higher, at 34 percent.
In the US, 92 percent of children have an online presence by the time they are two compared to 73 percent of children in the EU.
“It’s shocking to think that a 30-year-old has an online footprint stretching back 10-15 years at most, while the vast majority of children today will have online presence by the time they are two years old – a presence that will continue to build throughout their whole lives,” says AVG CEO JR Smith.
According to the research, the average ‘digital birth’ of children happens at around six months, with a third of children having their photos and information posted online within weeks of being born.
In the UK, 37 percent of newborns have an online life from birth, whereas in Australia and New Zealand the figure is 41 percent. Seven percent of babies and toddlers have an email address created for them by their parents, and five percent have a social network profile.
When asked why, more than 70 percent of all mothers surveyed said they wanted to share with friends and family. However, more than a fifth of mothers in the US said they wanted to add more content to their social network profiles – a great reason to procreate, girls – and 18 percent of US mothers said they were simply copying their peers.
Smith says that parents should think a little more carefully.
“First, you are creating a digital history for a human being that will follow him or her for the rest of their life. What kind of footprint do you actually want to start for your child, and what will they think about the information you’ve uploaded in future?” he asks.
“Secondly, it reinforces the need for parents to be aware of the privacy settings they have set on their social network and other profiles. Otherwise, sharing a baby’s picture and specific information may not only be shared with friends and family but with the whole online world.”
Meanwhile – and perhaps just a touch hypocritically – a separate survey finds that nearly all American parents think social networks aren’t doing enough to protect childrens’ privacy. Common Sense Media found that 92 percent are concerned that kids share too much information online.
“We are all responsible for addressing this enormous challenge; the industry must openly acknowledge the problem,” says CEO James Steyer. Parents and kids have to educate themselves about protecting their information. Schools should teach students and parents about privacy protection. And policymakers must update privacy policies for the 21st century.”