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Study: Average Age of 'Digital Birth' is Six Months

The internet can be a hugely powerful learning tool for kids but a lot of parents are nervous about letting their children online. After all, though the internet is an incredible invention, it can also be quite dangerous. Surprising then, that 92 percent of American children have an online presence by the time they're two and it's all thanks to their parents.

A recent study by Research Now found that a huge number of American parents have shared pictures of their kids online. When compared to parents from the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan, parents from the U.S. were more likely to share information and pictures of their infant online. A third of U.S. mothers said they had posted pictures of their newborn babies online, while a further 34 percent admitted they're put their sonogram pictures on the internet.

The study was done on behalf of AVG, involved 2,200 parents from the 10 countries listed above and found that the average age for 'digital birth' worldwide was just 6-months old. In the UK, 37 percent of newborns have an online life from birth, whereas in Australia and New Zealand the figure is 41 percent. When asked why they posted the pictures online, more than 70 percent of all mothers surveyed said it was to share with friends and family, and 22 percent of mothers in the U.S. said they wanted to add more content to their social network profiles. A further 18 percent of U.S. mothers said they were just following the crowd.

Though it's natural for proud parents to put this kind of information online for friends and family to ooh and aah over, AVG is worried that people are creating a digital profile for their children that will follow them around forever.

"… We urge parents to think about two things," writes AVG CEO JR Smith. "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."

Parents surveyed were concerned, though. When asked about the amount of online information available on their children in future years, mothers said they were moderately concerned. Of all of them, Spanish mothers were the most concerned and Canadian mothers the least worried.

Do you upload pictures of your children to social networks and blogs? Do you think it is safe?

Source: AVG via CNet