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MIT Technology Review

Parents have posted 1,300 photos of their children by the time they’re 13

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

The first truly digital natives: Children growing up today are the first to be “datafied” from birth and are the “canary in the coal mine for wider society,” says the report by the children’s commissioner for England.

On average, by the age of 13, children have had 1,300 photos and videos of themselves posted to social media by their parents, the report says. And by 18, children have created 70,000 social-media posts.

The report highlights internet-connected toys, smart speakers, and baby cameras, used by or for children not yet old enough to own a smartphone. There hasn’t been enough thought given to the consequences of all this, the authors argue.

What should be done? The report says the government should consider strengthening data laws to protect children. It also calls for children to be taught about data collection in schools and for companies to take more responsibility. “Companies that make apps, toys, and other products used by children need to stop filling them with trackers and put their terms and conditions in language that children understand,” Anne Longfield, the children’s commissioner, said.