Parents ‘oversharing’ family photos online, but lack basic privacy know-how

5th September 2016

Study by Nominet finds on average parents post nearly 1,500 photos by their child’s fifth birthday – a 54% increase since last year.

British parents are posting 54% more photos of their children on social media compared to last year, with the average parent sharing 1,498 photos by a child’s fifth birthday. This is despite the majority of parents lacking basic knowledge on how to keep their photos private, with nearly a quarter of parents (24%) failing to answer questions on where to find and amend privacy settings online. Nominet’s Share with Care study aims to encourage parents to educate themselves about managing privacy settings at a time when thousands of parents post #firstdayatschool pictures.

Mums and dads are sharing nearly 300 photos online on average every year, with the top three destinations for these being Facebook (54%), Instagram (16%) and Twitter (12%). Nominet’s study polled 2,000 parents who have children 0-13 years old, revealing other findings including:

  • On average, parents have 295 friends on Facebook, all of whom could potentially see any photo they post. However, parents’ photos could reach a much wider audience if they are downloaded and re-posted by their friends, or when other people are tagged in them.
  • Of the top three platforms parents use to share photos of their children, on average parents have 295 friends on Facebook, 69 followers on Twitter and 57 followers on Instagram
  • Only 10% of parents would say that nearly all their Facebook friends are actually true friends offline
  • Over a third of parents admit that over 50% of their Facebook friends are not ‘true friends’ that they would say hello to if they bumped into them in the street
  • 45% of parents allow these Facebook ‘friends’ to view their posts, a further 20% allow Friends of Friends, and 8% have their posts completely open to everyone

Common privacy mistakes

The study found that 85% of parents last reviewed their social media privacy settings over a year ago and only 10% are very confident in managing them. In fact, half of the parents said they understood only the basics when it comes to managing the privacy settings of their most used social network while 39% are unsure on how to do so.

After testing parents’ knowledge of Facebook’s privacy settings in a ten question quiz, 24% of parents answered all of the true/false questions incorrectly. The questions which caused particular confusion amongst parents included:

  • If you post a photo and tag other people in it, strangers could see it even if you’ve only allowed it to be viewed by your friends. The answer is true but 79% of parents answered incorrectly or didn’t know the answer
  • You can set individual privacy settings for each photo album you have. The answer is true but 71% of parents answered incorrectly or didn’t know the answer
  • It is possible for people that aren’t on Facebook to see your profile picture and cover photo. The answer is true but 65% of parents answered incorrectly or didn’t know the answer

Permissions and repercussions

When it comes to asking consent when posting photos online, a third of parents (33%) always expect other parents to ask permission when posting a photo of their child, yet 36% don’t adopt the same approach themselves. In fact, only 16% always ask the permission of the person before sharing an image of them online. On average, parents have uploaded a photo of someone else’s child nearly 30 times in the last year.

Russell Haworth, CEO, Nominet, commented, “This week, our social media channels are likely to be full of proud parents marking the #firstdayatschool by sharing photos of their children in their new uniform, which could reveal the school’s name and location. Of course, one of the greatest benefits of social media is that it gives us a platform to capture and share the snapshots of key moments and events that mean the most to us. However, as parents we need to remember to share with care. Having an understanding of privacy settings and updating them regularly is crucial to protecting these precious memories and ensuring we only share them with those we know and trust – I know I’ll be double checking mine.”

Vicki Shotbolt, CEO and founder of The Parent Zone, commissioned by Nominet to conduct the study, added, “As this research shows, getting to grips with the privacy settings of our favourite social networking sites isn’t easy but parents could cause future embarrassment for their children – or worse, if they don’t take care. With children growing up in an increasingly digital world, we need to ensure we are one step ahead of possible risks and dangers and have a good understanding of how to avoid them.”

Click below to view the full infographic including tips on how to Share with Care.

Nominet Share with Care 2016 Infographic

For more information and advice on using social networks, visit

Notes to editors

Research Methodology
Nominet commissioned The Parent Zone to survey 2,000 parents between 1st August and 17th August 2016.

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 Victoria Marnoch / Tom Knock at Brands2Life on 020 7592 1200 or by email at [email protected]