AVG Technologies Digital Diaries: Digital Birth Research, Results, andReflections for Parents of Children Zero to TwoBy Jason Brand, LCSW and Rona Renner, RNAVG Technologies Digital Diaries is an ongoing research project developed to show howchildren all around the world are interacting with new technologies. This study polled 2,200mothers with Internet access across the USA, Canada, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain,Japan, Australia, and New Zealand. The aim of Digital Birth was to find out when babies andtoddlers start having a presence online. Results from the survey show that by the time they aretwo, 81% of children have some kind of “digital footprint”. The average age at which a childacquires an online presence, courtesy of their parents, is six months. Also, a quarter (23%) ofchildren have even had their pre-birth scans (sonogram pictures) uploaded to the Internet bytheir parents and a third (33%) of children have had images put up online from birth.The Bottom LineHaving a child can be one of the most exciting experiences in a person’s life. It is completelyunderstandable, and normal, to want to share this excitement with friends and family. With theadvent of new technologies such as text messaging, smart phones, the Internet, and socialnetwork sites, it is now possible to share the experience of having and raising a young child witha far greater audience.There are also some drawbacks to sharing online. In the rush to post, email, blog, and text,parents often ignore the bigger picture. There is a need to consider safety, privacy and thelongevity of a digital footprint when it comes to zero to two year old children who have yet tofully take their place in the world.Questions to ask yourself ● Have I taken the time to clarify my own feelings about how much information is appropriate to post? ● Am I avoiding thinking about these issues because it feels too scary? ● Do I understand how my information is being distributed by the sites where I am sharing about my pregnancy, newborn, or young child? ● Have I taken the time to understand my security settings? If I can not figure it out myself, who can I ask for help? ● Am I keeping in mind the fact that a digital footprint is forever and that what I say about my child today will likely follow him or her for life?
● Is my partner or spouse on the same page about the kinds of information that we feel comfortable sharing? ● Do I need to be more clear with friends and relatives in regards to my feelings about posting information, images, and video about my pregnancy or child? ● Am I able to truly get the most out of experiences and not feel that I have to publish every moment to an online audience?Ideas to considerEach person is going to have their own unique set of feelings and values when it comes to howmuch personal information is appropriate to share online. Strong feelings are often a part of anyconversation about the rights of children ages zero to two because this is a group that cannotspeak on their own behalf. Furthermore, the digital age is also in its own infancy and we do notknow how our sharing today will look to the future generation. For these reasons, it is importantto approach these issues with an open mind and tolerance for the views of others.Take the time to understand what we do know about both the upsides and downsides of sharinginformation about a young child online. From there it will be easier to create your own uniqueset of guidelines about what is appropriate. Leaving these issues to be sorted out in the futureis not enough: start good data habits early. The best place to start is with your own behavior andmotivations about what you choose to share online.Resources: You can find more detailed information on the research at (note: AVG to add thereport link here)To learn about Jason Brand, visit http://www.jasonbrand.com.To learn about Rona Renner, visit http://www.childhoodmatters.org.