“Internet security company AVG surveyed mothers and found that 81 percent of children under the age of two currently have some kind of digital profile or footprint, with images of them posted online. 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 EU5
According to the research, the average digital birth of children happens at around six months with a third (33%) of children’s 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.
Almost a quarter (23%) of children begin their digital lives when parents upload their prenatal sonogram scans to the Internet. This figure is higher in the US, where 34 percent have posted sonograms online, while in Canada the figure is even higher at 37 percent. Fewer parents share sonograms of their children in France (13%), Italy (14%) and Germany (15%). Likewise only 14 percent of parents share these online in Japan.
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 what motivates parents to post images of their babies on the Internet, more than 70 percent of all mothers surveyed said it was to share with friends and family. However, more than a fifth (22%) of mothers in the US said they wanted to add more content to their social network profiles, while 18 percent of US mothers said they were simply following their peers.
According to AVG CEO JR Smith, “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.
“Our research shows that the trend is increasing for a child’s digital birth to coincide with and in many cases pre-date their real birth date. A quarter of babies have sonogram photos posted online before they have even physically entered into the world.
“It’s completely understandable why proud parents would want to upload and share images of very young children with friends and families. At the same time, we urge parents to think about two things:
“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?
“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.”