As any friend or coworker of a new parent subjected to photo after photo and story after story of their darling little one knows, parental pride can be all consuming. But a new report from Internet security company AVG shows that unabashed pride may be leading parents to overlook privacy concerns when it comes to sharing their child online. One third of children have had images posted online from birth and 81 percent of children have some kind of ‘digital footprint’ by the time they are two, on average, according to the report. What’s more, seven percent of babies have had an email address created for them by their parents, and five percent have a social profile. Welcome to the wired world, little one.
The study, released in a blog posting today by AVG CEO JR Smith, discovered that parents are building their child’s online presence even before they are born, and aren’t overly concerned with the effects that kind of exposure may have.
Almost a quarter, or 23 percent, of parents upload images of their first prenatal scan. One a scale of one to five, with five being the most concerned, the mothers surveyed were only moderately concerned, 3.5 on average, about the amount of online information available on their children in future years.
“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,” Smith wrote in his blog post.
AVG’s research surveyed more than 2,000 mothers across the globe, from New Zealand and the United States to Canada, Australia, Japan, Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain.
Not surprisingly, American babies are the most wired, with 92 percent having an online presence by the time they are two. Toddlers to our north, in Canada, and Down Under, in Australia and New Zealand, followed closely behind the United States. Japan was by far the furthest behind, with only 43 percent of their toddlers having an online presence.
When asked what motivated them to share images of their children online, more than 70 percent said it was to share them with friends and family. A surprising 22 percent of mothers admitted they uploaded images of their children to add more content to their own social network profiles.
In releasing the report, the security firm warned parents against creating a “digital dossier” of their children and urged them to not only review their privacy settings on social networking sites like Facebook, but to stop and think the impact their actions may have.
“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 the future?,” Smith asks of parents.