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Growing up online: Following the digital footprint from birth onwards

In this day and age, many new parents are taking to social media to share pictures of their treasured newborn with their friends and family, continuing to update them with images as their child reaches new milestones.

Antivirus and Internet Security company AVG has produced a report, A Look at How Technology Affects Us From Birth Onwards, examining the practice of posting content about children from birth and how they adjust and come of age in the digital realm.

One stage that the study focused on was the "digital birth" and celebrating of infants and toddlers aged zero to two online.

An AVG infographic stated that 81 per cent of two-year-olds have a digital footprint, with a third of children (33 per cent) having images posted online from birth.

A majority of mums (70 per cent) said their reason for posting pictures of their baby or toddler online was to share them with friends and family.

An AVG whitepaper says it's hard to know the impact that such posts will have on the next generation, with these "unknowns combined with the enthusiasm around the social web" making it easy to "ignore the dilemmas" about safety and privacy in the digital age.

Researcher Dr Danah Boyd has highlighted four concepts – persistence, replicability, searchability and invisible audiences – that may help parents to review their online posting activities.

Persistence – Whatever you post online stays there, so you might want to reconsider posting that picture of your baby in the bathtub as it will be viewable for years to come.

Searchability – The AVG report says that search engines are going to become more sophisticated at finding information as technology progresses, especially with videos and pictures.

Replicability – Whatever you say or upload online can be reproduced and changed – nuff said really.

Invisible audiences  – "Offline we can clearly see who we are talking to and how they are reacting. This is not true online," the whitepaper, AVG Technologies Digital Diaries: Digital Birth – Guidelines and Considerations for Children Ages Zero to Two, states.

"Stay mindful of the fact that the same picture that seems cute and innocent can mean something completely different when viewed in another context."

Posted by April Revake.

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