How Many 2-Yr-Olds Have Online ID? 92 Percent

Survey: Quarter of children have online presence before actual birth.

October 08, 2010, 1:25 PM

Oct. 8, 2010— -- The average American toddler might be a decade away from her own Facebook account, but chances are she's already made her online debut.

According to a new survey on "digital births" from computer security company AVG Technologies, 92 percent of American children have an online record by the time they're 2 years old.

About a quarter (23 percent) of children start their online lives before birth, when their parents post prenatal sonogram scans to the Web, the survey said.

The study surveyed 2,200 mothers in 10 countries, including the U.S., Canada, the U.K., France, Australia and Japan, and found that the average "digital birth" happens at around six months.

About a third of children make their Internet premiere within weeks of their birth, as parents share pictures and birth announcements with family and friends.

A few lucky babies even have e-mail addresses (7 percent) and social networking profiles (5 percent) created for them by their online-happy parents.

But before you go and make your child a digital denizen, you might want to consider the implications of a life entirely documented online.

Siobhan MacDermott, a spokeswoman for AVG, said that while adults today only have online records that reach back 15 or 20 years, at most, children born today might never know what it's like to have a digitized-free life.

Parents may think it's harmless enough to share baby pictures with friends and family online, but those images could follow their kids for the rest of their lives.

"When they apply for a job, when they apply for school… those bath tub pictures will be a part of their application to MIT," she said.

Cute baby photos now could make for awkward middle school moments later. And, worse yet, computer-savvy criminals could harvest birth dates, places and names to apply for credit cards in young childrens' names, MacDermott pointed out.

"It's a matter of urging people to be cautious and prudent about what kinds of information they put out there," she said.

AVG: Be Sure Privacy Settings Limit Viewing to Friends and Family, Not Entire Internet

She said the point of the survey isn't to discourage parents from sharing information about their kids online, but to make them think about the consequences and importance of privacy settings.

If you're going to share photos and information about young children, remember that online content can follow them through adulthood and make sure your privacy settings limit viewing to friends and family only, the company cautions.

"I think that a lot of it has to do with education," MacDermott said. "It's an awareness thing."

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