These days, you can find almost anyone online through multiple social media platforms. Social profiles of young teens and the elderly are becoming increasingly prevalent. But, have you ever thought about having an online presence as a baby? Or even before you were born? It’s possible that your digital footprint can date back to even before you even existed. How can that be?
Let’s first start off by explaining this term of a digital footprint. This can be any trace of your presence in the digital world. Anything from an email address to a photograph on Facebook can contribute to your digital footprint. All of your interactions with the Internet, television, mobile phones, and any other digital media forms also play a role in your digital footprint.
Now, it may seem easier to grasp the fact that your digital footprint could have been making its mark well before you could make footprints of your own. , an Internet security company prominent in the United States, England, and other parts of Europe, recently conducted a examining the idea of a “digital birth.” 2200 mothers with children under the age of two were surveyed in North America (U.S. and Canada), EU5 (U.K., France, Germany, Italy, Spain), Australia, New Zealand, and Japan. The findings were quite surprising.
Of the 2200 mothers, 81 percent of their children under two years old already had a digital footprint. Of the U.S. participants, 92 percent of children under two years of age had a footprint. This figure is lower at 73 percent for the EU5 countries.
The study found that the average digital footprint begins around six months of age. One third of these footprints are due to parents posting photographs of their children or posting information about their newborn within weeks of birth. In the United Kingdom, 37 percent of newborns have an online presence right from birth. This figure is higher in Australia and New Zealand at 41 percent.
Almost a quarter (23 percent) of digital footprints begin with a sonogram before birth. This figure is the highest in Canada (37 percent) and the United States (34 percent). France, Italy, Germany, and Japan only account for half as much (respectively 13 percent, 14 percent, 15 percent, and 14 percent) as the U.S. and Canada. This means that these babies have a digital birth before their own physical debut into the world.
Of course, these explanations all seem pretty reasonable for beginning a digital footprint. Every mother wants to show off their newborn baby or their toddler. Social networks and the Internet are a fast and easy way to share information from the first breath to the first step.
But, what about babies with email addresses? Seems crazy doesn’t it? According to this study, 7 percent of babies and toddlers have email addresses created for them by their parents. Another 5 percent already have social network profiles. Why parents think their baby needs an email address and a Twitter account is beyond me, but apparently it happens.
What’s with parents these days? I’m sure teenagers ask this question everyday. But seriously, why post images of you children on such a vast, unsecured, public place? A majority of mothers surveyed (70 percent) replied that they use these methods as a way of easily sharing information with their friends and families. Another 22 percent reported that they only posted pictures of their children to increase to amount of content on their social profiles. Lastly, 18 percent of mothers only did so because their friends and family did it first.
With putting any information on the Web, a few concerns have to be taken into consideration. The study asked mothers to rate their concerns on a scale from one to five, one being little to no concern and five being extremely concerned. Overall, mothers averaged a 3.5 on the scale of concern. Spanish mothers were the most worried at a 3.9 and Canadian mothers were the least concerned at a 3.1. As the research shows, mothers are only moderately troubled by what could happen with the information they post to the World Wide Web.
AVG’s CEO, JR Smith, argues that there are two things parents should think about when posting their child’s information or photos on the Internet. First of all, a digital footprint cannot be erased. It will be with your child for the rest of his or her life. So when you post that first picture, make sure the footprint is appropriate. Whatever you post now can be traced to your child years in the future.
Secondly, it is increasingly vital for parents to be aware of privacy settings of each social networking site. The information you put out there can potentially be seen by anyone in the entire world. Parents need to make sure their privacy settings are correctly adjusted so only people they know can view their content. Every site is different, so be sure to look into this carefully.
Digital footprints are permanent. They can be used in the future to find out all kinds of information posted about you in the past. If you decide to begin someone else’s footprint, such as your child, make sure you proceed with caution.
Comment below and tell us about your own digital footprint.