The average child has 1,300 photos of them online by the time they're 13

Experts want parents to be more aware of their child’s digital footprint [Photo: Getty]
Experts want parents to be more aware of their child’s digital footprint [Photo: Getty]

On their first day of school, when they’re in a cute costume, when they’ve lost a tooth…many proud parents can’t resist posting pictures of children’s milestones to social media.

But the number of snapshots being shared online might surprise you.

According to a report by the Office of the Children’s Commissioner, kids have on average 1,300 pictures and videos of themselves posted online by the time they reach the grand old age of… 13.

And now experts are warning that parents, technology companies and the government should consider the effect that large digital footprints could have on young people.

In a report titled, Who Knows What About Me?, it was revealed that children aged 11-16 post on social media on average 26 times a day, which means by the age of 18 they are likely to have posted a whopping 70,000 times.

Commenting on the findings Simone Vibert, senior policy analyst for the Office of the Children’s Commissioner, and author of the report, said: “More and more information is collected about all of us as we navigate today’s digital world. But the difference for children is that their data footprints extend from birth, documenting their earliest experiences – both good and bad.

“A child’s personal information should not be used in a way that leads to them facing disadvantage as an adult, yet that is a possibility we are facing. We urgently need to introduce safeguards to minimise risks like these, while allowing data to be used positively to improve public services and customer experiences.”

Now the office is calling on schools to teach children about how their data is collected and used and what they can do to take control of their data footprint.

“Children are often shocked to learn just how information and data is collected about them as they grow up, from the information stored by new gadgets like Alexa to data held by their schools,” Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner for England said. “We need to make sure that they can make informed choices about the data they are giving away and that their parents know who knows what about their kids.”

“I also want to see all manufacturers and the big internet companies be transparent about how their devices are capturing information about children, toy manufacturers clearly labelling their packaging if they are capturing children’s audio or video and a statutory duty of care between the social media giants and their younger users.

“This is an issue that will only grow as technology continues to advance and it is vital that protections are put in place by the Government so that any data collected about children is done transparently and is used only for positive reasons.”

Parents will have shared 1,300 pictures of their children online by the time they are 13 [Photo: Getty]
Parents will have shared 1,300 pictures of their children online by the time they are 13 [Photo: Getty]

The news comes after the NSPCC issued a warning to parents last year, urging them to think twice before sharing images of their children in school uniform to social media.

The child protection charity hoped the warning might encourage parents to be mindful of how much information they could be revealing in the school snapshots they share online.

While posting a sweet snap of your little one’s first day of school may seem innocent enough, the charity are warning that important information could be given away about your child’s location from their school logo or crest.

And when it comes to sharing images online, there’s also the thorny issue of consent to consider.

A spokesperson for the NSPCC told Metro that every time a photo or video is posted of a child, a ‘digital footprint’ is created which can follow them into adult life.

“It is always important to ask a child for their permission before posting photos or videos of them,” the spokesperson advised.

“For very young children, think about whether they would be happy for you to post or if it will embarrass them. If you aren’t sure, it’s best not to post.”

The warning comes after it was revealed that an 18-year-old from Carinthia, Austria was suing her parents for posting embarrassing and revealing photos of her on Facebook for the past seven years.

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