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Our children’s digital dossiers

New parents probably don’t think of baby blogs and online photo albums as part of their children’s digital dossiers or footprints, but that’s what they are. The computer security company AVG recently surveyed parents with Internet access and children under age two in 10 countries (Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Spain, the UK, and the US), asking them “when they uploaded pictures of their children and what motivated them to do so.” Here are some highlights shared in the AVG company blog:

  • The average age a kid starts having an online presence is six months, and by the time they’re two, 81% of children “have some kind of ‘digital footprint’.”
  • 33% of kids have had their photos posted online from birth
  • 23% of pre-birth scans are uploaded to the Internet by their parents
  • 7% of babies have had their own email address created by their parents
  • More than 70% of mothers said they posted baby and toddler images online to share with friends and family.

When they’re older, will our kids want people to be able to find their baby photos on the Internet? Lisa Belkin looked at that important question in a New York Times “Motherlode” column last year (see also “Online privacy: Photos out of control”). And of course, AVG’s numbers only reflect parents’ own contributions to their children’s digital dossiers. Think about hospital and birth registry records, school records, what they post about themselves, and all the rest of the aggregation of digital data associated with them and all of us in private and public networks – that’s what this thought-provoking video, created by members of the 2010 class of interns at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society, is about (I blogged about it here). [Added later: Doing some research on digital citizenship, I found “Children & Their Digital Dossiers,” by Profs. Ilene Berson and Michael Berson at University of South Florida.]

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