Today’s children will feature in almost 1,000 online photos by the time they reach age five

26th May 2015

New study by Nominet reveals the average parent posts over 200 photos of their children every year, although the majority don’t check privacy settings regularly.

On average 973 photos are posted online by a child’s fifth birthday, equating to an average of 195 photos shared by parents every year. This is the key finding of new research commissioned by Nominet for its online safety campaign. The figure rises as children get older, with parents of those under the age of 16 sharing on average 208 images of their children online a year.

The study revealed that 17% of parents have never checked their Facebook privacy settings and almost half (46%) have only checked once or twice, despite the social network being the most common platform for photo sharing.

“Parents are creating a large digital footprint for their child from a young age, and the right settings are important if you want to stay in control”

The research, conducted by the Parent Zone on behalf of Nominet, polled 2,000 parents on the ways in which they share images of children online, as well as testing them on their knowledge of the information that is captured when taking pictures on different devices. Despite 70% of parents claiming their main gadget for taking photos was a smartphone, fewer than half (49%) were aware that location data showing where photos were taken could be stored.

Furthermore, parents are in the dark about who has the rights to images being posted online, as 39% believe they own the sole rights to images posted on Facebook and 17% think the same for Instagram. In fact, the terms and conditions of many social media sites, including Facebook and Instagram, state they have the right to use uploaded images to promote their services without explicitly asking the permission of the person that uploaded the photo.

Russell Haworth, CEO, Nominet, commented, “We all love to share those precious moments in our children’s lives with friends and family and sites like Facebook have made it easier than ever. While the web helps relatives to keep in touch and participate in our everyday lives, it also has the potential to lead to accidental oversharing. It’s important to ensure that the correct privacy settings are in place to safeguard our personal information and content. Parents are creating a large digital footprint for their child from a young age, and the right settings are important if you want to stay in control.”

Facebook dominates the way in which parents are sharing images of their children with 53% of parents stating that they have uploaded images of their kids to the social networking site. Instagram followed with 14%, while more than one in ten (12%) parents upload pictures of their kids to Twitter.

The research also shows that parents often neglect the feelings of others when posting photos online. A quarter (25%) confess to never asking the permission of the people in photos before posting them and over half (53%) have uploaded a photo of a child that wasn’t their own. Today’s kids may not be too happy about this trend since almost a third of parents admitted their child had prevented a photo of them being uploaded.

Vicki Shotbolt, CEO and founder of The Parent Zone added, “Today’s youth is the first generation to grow up with social networks as an integral part of everyday life so it’s important we stop and think about how they might feel about content that’s shared now when they’re older. No-one would want a potential employer browsing through their baby photos, so making sure privacy settings are applied properly is always a good idea. Of course parents should feel comfortable uploading photos to social networks, but thinking about whether it’s an appropriate image first will go a long way to avoiding any unwanted repercussions in the future.”

Here are our top tips when sharing photos online:

  • Check your privacy settings: Take a look at your social network’s privacy settings and ensure that they have been changed from the default. Make sure you’re only sharing images with the right people and avoid oversharing
  • Think before you upload: If it’s an image of a child, do you think they will thank you for sharing it once they’ve grown up? Consider the feelings of others before posting images – if the child isn’t your own try to ask the permission of their parent first. Most importantly, remember that once a picture is uploaded to a social media site it’s very difficult to remove all traces of it
  • Stay in control: Don’t use social networks as a replacement for your own photo albums or hard drive storage, as they could be at risk in the event of any technical glitches. And remember that some social networks will obtain rights to your images once you’ve uploaded them
  • Keep up to date: Social networks regularly add new features and update their own settings so it’s important to keep track

For more information see our infographic.

Notes to editors

Research Methodology
The Parent Zone surveyed 2,000 parents between 26th January 2015 and 3rd February 2015.

About The Parent Zone
The Parent Zone works with companies, schools, local authorities and others to produce products and services that make life easier for parents. Digital parenting and online safety is one strand of their work, raising standards for parents as consumers and employees.

For more information
Please contact Cathy Donald / Victoria Marnoch at Brands2Life on 020 7592 1200 or by email at nominet@brands2life.co.uk