Of Canadians, Sonograms and Online Privacy

by Jordan Richardson on October 12, 2010

There’s no question that the digital world has changed the way we share information. From photos to blog posts, details of our lives are put online with great regularity.

But what about kids? It turns out that most kids actually have an “online presence” before they turn two.

According to internet security company AVG, more than 90% of children in the United States have some sort of presence on the internet before they reach the ripe age of two. A quarter of the children included in the AVG study have had an online presence prior to their birth, with photos of prenatal sonograms making the rounds either on blogs or on various social networking sites. Interestingly, Canadians are sharing digital footprints of their young earlier than any other country included in the study.

The AVG study surveyed some 2,200 mothers in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, Spain, New Zealand, Germany, France, Japan, and Italy.

37% of Canadian mothers share prenatal sonograms online. Compared to the global average of 23%, that’s pretty significant. It’s even more significant in the face of the 13-15% of sonogram sharers from France, Germany, Japan, and Italy.

Privacy concerns are also greeted with interest in Canada. According to the study, Canadian mothers were the least concerned about the “privacy implications” of posting information and pictures of their kids online. With a scale of one to five in place, with five representing “very concerned,” Canadian mothers charted an average of 3.1. Compare that with a global average of 3.5 or a throng of concerned Spanish mothers rating in at 3.9.

What those “privacy implications” are specifically, however, remains a mystery.

A flip through the comments sections at various websites covering this issue proves particularly interesting. Many, usually of the self-righteous variety, claim to vehemently oppose the sharing of such photos and information online. To share pictures of youngsters constitutes an extraordinary violation of privacy, they seem to argue. These individuals have apparently never been in the company of parents at a swimming pool or park.

Do these views simply express an outdated sense of how information is shared in this era? Social networking sites and blogs do indeed offer users the ideal opportunity to share information, photos and advice that they otherwise may not have been able to share with far-flung relatives and friends.

It is argued that kids may be embarrassed or ashamed of their online presence. I think of the countless YouTube clips involving youngsters doing all sorts of hilarious things for the camera (and the world) to see. This, it seems to me, is the technological equivalent of sharing embarrassing footage of a snot-nosed Christmas production with the neighbours. The problem, though, is that the sharing occurs on a much, much larger scale.

So what’s the sensible approach to kids and online privacy? Caution is, of course, always advisable. But so is an open mind, especially among new mothers anxious to share their joy with anyone who will listen. I’m not overly sure how much of a privacy violation a sonogram picture is, for instance, unless it’s possible to acquire a credit card on behalf of a fetus.

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Written by: Jordan Richardson. www.digitcom.ca >. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com > by: RSS >, Twitter >, Identi.ca >, or Friendfeed >


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