Digital footprint starts in the womb, Children's Commissioner warns

Irving Hamilton
November 10, 2018

A new report has called for more transparency over how companies collect data on children.

Proud moms and pops are giving away an alarming amount of their offspring's personal information without their consent: Kids will have an average of 1,300 pictures and videos of themselves posted online by their parents by the time they're 13. It's a shocking number, kind of like when you think you're a relatively light eater-then you start keeping a food diary and realize you ate 14 Kit Kats and four bags of Fritos on Tuesday.

Of course, it's not just parents who post to social media.

It is expected that children aged 11 to 16 post on social media an average of 26 times a day, which indicates that by the age of 18 they are likely to have posted 70,000 times.

More data is also collected outside home through location tracking watches, school databases, classroom apps, biometric data in schools, retail loyalty schemes, travel passes, and medical records.

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Longfield called the United Kingdom government "to strengthen data protection laws for young people and for smart toys to clearly label if they record or store information on children", the newspaper stated.

Children's digital footprints are being formed earlier than ever, leaving them open to identify theft and fraud as they grow up because there is so much data on them readily available.

A report from the Children's Commissioner for England argued many parents and children were not fully aware of the extent to which information was being shared across online services and devices, on parents' social media profiles as well as through internet-connected toys. The report says the government should consider strengthening data laws to protect children.

For instance 70 percent of schools in the United Kingdom now use the ClassDojo app to help monitor children's behaviour and communicate with parents. "We simply do not know what the consequences of all..."

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