It's increasingly common for children to have an online footprint before they're born, and most kids in many developed countries have some sort of digital profile by their second birthday, according to a new study by AVG, an Internet security firm.
AVG surveyed mothers in the US and Canada, the EU5 (UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain), Japan, Australia, and New Zealand. It found that nearly a quarter of children in these nations start their digital lives before their actual birth dates--when their parents upload their prenatal sonogram scans to the Internet.
In the States, 92 percent of children have a digital presence by age two, compared to 73 percent in the EU5, the study shows.
AVG also asked moms how concerned they are (on a 1-to-5 scale, with 5 being most concerned) about the amount of information available online on their kids in the future. Most were moderately concerned (a 3.5 average). Canadian mothers worried the least (3.1), while Spanish moms worried the most (3.9).
"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," said AVG CEO JR Smith in a statement.
Parents, think before you post, warns Smith, who added these insights:
"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."
And, come on, who really looks good in a sonogram?