Today’s generation of newborns born face a vastly different world to those of born before 1973, the year the internet was conceived. No child born in October 2010 will have to go searching in scrap books and family photo albums to find out about their early years.

Digital birth nursery large

They will probably be celebrated into this world with their baby portraits shared on Facebook and other social networks. By the time they can use a computer it will be easy to find a digital dossier of themselves.

This “digital dossier” will probably consist of photos and videos of childhood memories shared by our parents, family and friends. In many cases this will actually happen within days of their birth, by the time they are two they will almost certainly have images and other information posted online. That online history will be built upon and will follow them around for their whole life.

This is confirmed by a study we’ve just carried out where we polled mothers with Internet access who have children under two in the five major EU States (UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain), the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Japan. We asked them when they uploaded pictures of their children and what motivated them to do so.

Here is what we’ve found:
1 – The average age at which a child acquires an online presence courtesy of their parents is at six months, and by the time they are two 81% of children have some kind of ‘digital footprint’.
2 – A third (33%) of children have had images posted online from birth
3 – A quarter (23%) of children have even had their pre-birth scans uploaded to the Internet by their parents
4 – Seven per cent (7%) of babies have even had an email address created for them by their parents
5 – More than 70% of mothers said they posted baby and toddler images online to share with friends and family

We’re in the age where online social tools are a standard form of communicating and sharing with friends and family online, especially among women in their 20s and 30s, is common practise.

However, what’s a sobering thought is the fact that many parents are creating online profiles and email addresses (7% according to our research) for their babies and toddlers. Indeed, there is even a toy that has been developed allowing your toddler to access Twitter!

While it’s natural to share this proud moment with people who are close to you, this does emphasise the need to review your social network privacy settings.

Regrettably it only takes a few minutes to find unprotected baby albums and even pictures of antenatal scans on Facebook that are open to the wider online world, so we have put together a guide on how to secure your Facebook privacy. You can also download and use our “AVG Nursery infographic” that we have posted on Flickr for sharing, so please do so.

It’s important for parents today to realise they are creating an online dossier for a human being that will be with them for years to come. It’s worth considering what kind of digital footprint or online history you want to leave for your child. And when your child is a teenager or adult, what will they make of the information you are currently uploading now?

At AVG we care about your (and your children’s) online safety and security: you can make your social networking activity safer by using our latest free security software AVG 2011.

AVG Social Networking Protection employs a special set of rules that check if links in your social network messages are safe to visit. It will also mark links that you share with your friends telling them that they are safe to visit as well.

Best of all, it’s automatic and you don’t have to change your social network account settings to make it work.

NB. If you would like to read the full report then please download this pdf Download Digitalbirthsglobal.