23% of children have parents who posted sonograms of them, starting their online presence before they were even born.
With the advent of social media, parents found a new way to share their children's lives with friends and family. No longer bound by physical distances, parents can keep family in other cities, states, or even countries connected with their kids.
AVG, an internet security company, conducted a survey of 2,200 mothers with children under the age of 2 in the USA, Canada, the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan. The researchers found that 81% of children have photos uploaded of them, 33% of children have photos uploaded when they were born, and 23% of children have their sonograms uploaded starting their online footprint before their actual birth date. In the US its worse, with 92% of children under the age of two have photos uploaded of them, and 34% of children have sonograms uploaded before their actual birth date.
JR Smith, the CEO of AVG, states his thoughts on the results of the survey:
“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 [the] 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.”
As someone that is in their late 30s, I have to agree with Smith here. My online presence didn't start until about a decade ago when I reluctantly joined Facebook. Some parents, from what I have seen, don't care if their kid's photos are public or private. I couldn't imagine being in middle school and having my baby pictures publicly accessible; I would be mortified. Daycares are now posting photos of kids they take care of on their public pages as well. Thankfully, our son's daycare asked if they were allowed to put his photo on their social media accounts or if they could use his photo in promotional material. We, of course, declined, but it's a sobering reminder on how interconnected our society is and how easy it is for your children's photos to get out into the digital space.
While we cannot turn back the clock, we can try to delay the inevitable and try to keep our kid's data private until they can understand what it means to be in the digital space. Unfortunately, some of the social media platforms have confusing or complicated privacy settings, and others change privacy settings without warning. Then there are the numerous privacy breaches by some and the, in my opinion, blatant disregard by others. Let's not forget that most of our social profiles don't have just our friends and family on them, and we are, or could be, sharing our children's photos with people we might have just randomly met or don't know personally.
I don't think its wrong for parents to want to share with their kids with friends and family. We just need to make sure that our photos are private and not accessible publicly, or as Smith says, ".. the whole online world."