Peter H Brown Clinical Psychologist

Psychology News & Resources

“That’s One Small Step…”: Up To 92% Of Parents Plant Their Child’s First Digital Footprint Before They Are 2 Years Old

It seems like many of our children will no longer have to worry about those embarrassing photos popping up at 16,18th or 21st birthdays anymore. Many of them will have their lives broadcast as they grow via the internet, some before they are even born! The following article, based on research undertaken by internet security company AVG raises some interesting and concerning questions about how we publicly share our childrens’ lives, beginning before they are even old enough to speak, let alone protest…

Digital Birth: Welcome to the Online World

AVG Study Finds a Quarter of Children Have Online Births Before Their Actual Birth Dates

Source:AMSTERDAM–(BUSINESS WIRE)

Uploading prenatal sonogram photographs, tweeting pregnancy experiences, making online photo albums of children from birth, and even creating email addresses for babies – today’s parents are increasingly building digital footprints for their children prior to and from the moment they are born.

“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.”

Internet security company AVG surveyed mothers in North America (USA and Canada), the EU5 (UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain), Australia/New Zealand and Japan, 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.

Lastly, AVG asked mothers how concerned they are (on a scale of one to five with five being very concerned) about the amount of online information available on their children in future years. Mothers were moderately concerned (average 3.5), with Spanish mothers being the most concerned.

 


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According to AVG CEO JR Smith, “It’s shocking to think that a 30-year-old has an online footprint stretching back 1015 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.”

The research was conducted by Research Now among 2200 mothers with young (under two) children during the week of 27 September. Mothers in the EU5 (UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain), Canada, the USA, Australia, New Zealand and Japan were polled.

Key results

1 – Mothers with children aged under two that have uploaded images of their child
Overall – 81%

USA – 92%
Canada – 84%

UK – 81%
France – 74%
Italy – 68%
Germany – 71%
Spain – 71%
(EU573%)

Australia – 84%
New Zealand – 91%
Japan – 43%

2 – Mothers that uploaded images of their newborn
Overall – 33%

USA – 33%
Canada – 37%

UK – 37%
France – 26%
Italy – 26%
Germany – 30%
Spain – 24%
(EU528.6%)

Australia – 41%
New Zealand – 41%
Japan – 19%

3 – Mothers that have uploaded antenatal scans online
Overall – 23%

USA – 34%
Canada – 37%

UK – 23%
France – 13%
Italy – 14%
Germany – 15%
Spain – 24%
(EU520%)

Australia – 26%
New Zealand – 30%
Japan – 14%

4 – Mothers that gave their baby an email address
Overall – 7%

USA – 6%
Canada – 9%

UK – 4%
France – 7%
Italy – 7%
Germany – 7%
Spain – 12%
(EU57%)

Australia – 7%
New Zealand – 4%
Japan – 7%

5 – Mothers that gave their baby a social network profile
Overall – 5%

USA – 6%
Canada – 8%

UK – 4%
France – 2%
Italy – 5%
Germany – 5%
Spain – 7%
(EU55%)

Australia – 5%
New Zealand – 6%
Japan – 8%

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October 13, 2010 - Posted by | Child Behavior, Identity, Internet, Parenting, research, Technology | , , , , , , , , , , , ,

2 Comments »

  1. That is very interesting information, however, from the child’s perspective into adulthood where they are most troubled in trying to figure themselves out would it not be beneficial to google yourself and get answers?
    If I had my life chronologically marked on the internet in various spaces I would know a lot more about my past and family history than I do now. I see this as somewhat beneficial, aside from the posed risks of sexual offenders or other maniacs out there.

    Comment by ladyjane4rent | May 12, 2011 | Reply

    • Good point. I hadn’t looked at it that way 🙂

      Comment by peterhbrown | October 21, 2011 | Reply


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