Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner for England, said today children’s digital footprint was starting in the womb, from the moment parents posted their scans on social media.
She also warned that children’s lives were being “datafied” on a huge scale as their personal information was being collected by smart toys, smart speakers and even school apps.
The findings come as the commissioner’s office released a report raising concerns about the amount of personal data children and their parents were giving away before they turned 18.
It warned the sheer volume of information could have serious consequences for children when the grow up as more and more important decisions were being influenced by algorithms looking through personal data.
The report said in the future such information could influence which universities people are accepted to, whether they received a mortgage or even their job applications.
As a result, Ms Longfield called for the 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 Children’s Commissioner also backed The Telegraph’s campaign for a statutory duty of care to be placed on social media companies to ensure children were properly protected online.
She said: “We need to stop and think about what this (increased data collection) means for children’s lives now and how it may impact on their future lives as adults.
“We simply do not know what the consequences of all this information about our children will be.”
The report highlighted that an average child has around 1,300 photos and videos published of them on social media by parents before they turn 13.
Then when children get on social media themselves they will on average post nearly 70,000 times between the ages of 11 and 18.
The report said that parents could be unwittingly gifting frausters key information such as names, ages and addresses, by simply posting a picture of their child on their birthday.