Babies that are born today are born into a digital world that is far different than the one we grew up in. With social media, smartphones and other high-tech devices being such a big part of our lives, it can sometimes be hard to remember what life was like before we could post a selfie anytime we wanted to.
Many parents don’t just post pictures of themselves on social media; they also post pictures of their children, sometimes even before they’re born when they share those first ultrasound photos. In fact, by the time a child is old enough to have their own social media account, the average parent will have posted over 1000 photos of their child.
Once children start posting on social media, they will create, on average, over 70,000 posts before they’re 18 years old. While privacy settings give us some control over who sees this content, we can’t be sure how the companies who are storing the data are using it.
This is the first generation that is growing up where their data is being shared online from the time they’re born (or before), and social media isn’t the only culprit. Many schools collect data, and even loyalty clubs at stores collect data. All of those connected devices we have (including baby monitors) also collect data, and we don’t know exactly how this data is being used.
One area of concern is apps designed for children. MediaSmarts is a company that develops digital and media literacy programs, and their director of education, Matthew Johnson, is concerned about a recent study that shows that the default settings in most free children’s apps in the Google Play Store violated U.S. privacy laws. This same report warns that just because a product is designed to be child-friendly doesn’t mean that it protects the child from data collection.
The concern is how all of this information that is being collected about our children will affect them when they are applying to college, trying to get a credit card, and job hunting.
Anne Longfield, the children’s commissioner of England, says, “We simply do not know what the consequences of all this information about our children will be.” Her office published a report called “Who Knows What About Me.”
The report looks at the ways data is being collected about our children and provides some tips parents can use to protect their children.
For more information about this report and some great tips about how to protect your children, watch this video.
Do you post pictures of your children on social media? Are you concerned about the impact of all of the digital data being collected online?