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Should you share photos of your child online?

Mother daughter tablet

More than half of UK parents do not post photos or videos of their children online – and privacy concerns are the main reason why

A new survey by Ofcom has reported that parents are divided about “sharenting” – the practise of sharing photos of their children on social media. For 56% of the 1000 survey respondents, publishing photos online was not something they ever felt comfortable doing.

Sharenting – the facts

  • 56% of parents surveyed would not post photos of their children
  • 70% do not think it's OK to share pictures of others without their permission
  • 36% strongly believe that personal photos should be restricted to friends or followers
  • 50% of those surveyed think it is difficult to erase images from the net after posting.

The case against posting online

The most commonly cited reason for parents not wishing to share their children's photos on social media was the desire to protect their identity. Of those surveyed, 87% said that their children's lives should remain private -with 38% saying that their children would not be happy for material to be shared.

One Mumsnetter said: “I think my main issue is we have no idea what the digital world will be like in the future, or the repercussions of the world we live in now. If someone wants to see my baby photos they have to go to my parents' house and try and find them in the loft! Our children's baby photos, what they do each day, funny and embarrassing stories etc, are shared with huge amounts of people, and unless you delete them, they're a permanent record. This may cause no problems at all, but we don't know that yet. And it is also an issue of consent, that does make me feel uncomfortable.”

Mother girl laptop

Why parents snap and share

A significant number of parents don't agree though: the Ofcom survey revealed that 42% do share photos of their children – and half of these share photos at least once a month. The majority (87%) of these parents say that they are careful about who can access the material and 52% said that they only share photos or videos that their children would be happy with.

A Mumsnetter said “I never put pictures of my child on Facebook until I moved to another country and I thought it was unfair on my family not to catch up with what he's doing and how much he is growing.”

“I do post on social media, well Facebook only, around twice a month. Never anything embarrassing and I always ask myself 'would I mind this being seen at a job interview?' before I do so. I also have tight security settings but I posted as though any one could see them in terms of content. I also do not use our surname, my account is still in my maiden name and I refer to the kids by their initials so photos don't pop up in a Google search.”

Staying safe on social media

Whether you're a “sharent” or you abstain from putting pictures online of your children, it's a good idea to check your privacy settings on social media and brush up on your own knowledge of internet safety. Even if you think you're clued up, things change quickly so it's important to stay up-to-date. If your kids are on social media already, then make sure you talk to them about their own privacy settings. And if they're not, then it's also a good idea to talk to them when they're young so that internet safety comes as naturally as road safety.