Majority of Canadian toddlers have photos online: study
The company said parents should keep tight privacy settings to guard against identity theft or unauthorized use of the pictures which could dog the child as it grows up
Rebecca Lindell, AFP and Postmedia News · Friday, Oct. 8, 2010
MELBOURNE — An Australian study found that 84% of Canadian toddlers have their pictures online via sites like Facebook, raising privacy and even pedophilia concerns, an Internet security company said on Friday.
According to the study by AVG, an average of 81% of toddlers in ten western countries have a digital presence; 92% in America, followed by 91% in New Zealand and 84% in Australia and Canada. A third of children have photos online at just a few weeks of age, while a quarter appear on the web before they are born in the form of ante-natal scans.
“It’s a sobering thought,” said AVG managing director Peter Cameron in a statement. “The vast majority of children today have online presence by the time they are two years old — a presence that will be built on throughout their whole lives.”
“It reinforces the need for parents to be aware of the privacy settings they have set on their social network profiles. Otherwise, you may be sharing your baby’s picture not only with your friends and family but with the whole online world.”
The company said parents should keep tight privacy settings to guard against identity theft or unauthorized use of the pictures which could dog the child as it grows up.
“They’ve got to have (settings) so they are only sharing with family and close friends and it’s kept within close confines, otherwise it can be picked up and used anywhere,” said spokesman Lloyd Borrett.
“Stranger danger applies online just as much as it does in the real world.”
AVG, which produces software to protect against identity theft, surveyed 2,200 mothers with Web access and children under two in Britain, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Canada, the United States, Australia, New Zealand and Japan.
The study comes just two days after Facebook unveiled new privacy features that allow users to form exclusive groups where they can share photos and messages with a select cluster of their friends and family. The social media giant is also expected to roll out a new feature that gives users more control over what information in their accounts is accessed by third-party applications.
Facebook’s privacy measures have been a source of constant scrutiny by Canada’s privacy watchdog.
After a year-long investigation, privacy commissioner Jennifer Stoddart determined in July 2009 that Facebook was not in line with Canadian privacy laws.
She later announced a deal with the company which would see it give users more control over their personal information and the power to curtail access of outside software and website developers to their data.
Ms. Stoddart validated Facebook’s privacy improvements last month, saying it had done enough to satisfy the concerns raised by the investigation.
But Ms. Stoddart said she had new concerns about the “Like” button and the invitation feature, which were introduced after her initial probe. Independent investigations into these features are ongoing.