Exclusive: Just 13 per cent of parents who regular post pictures of their children always ask their permission
Half of children want to the power to review or prevent their parents from sharing photos of them on social media, amid debates over the emotional repercussions of ‘sharenting’.
Parents’ use of social media to share images of their offspring, known as sharenting, has ignited debate over posting pictures children may not want shared with a larger audience.
A third (34 per cent) of 863 children aged between eight and 15-years old surveyed said their parents sometimes asked their permission before posting photos, with 18 per cent normally consulted and 13 per cent always asked.
An additional third (34 per cent) said they were never consulted by their parents, in contravention to advice from the NSPCC and non-profit Internet Matters.
The research, conducted by YouGov, demonstrated the complexities of creating a digital footprint for children who may be too young to consent to images being shared online, or who may request images are taken down once they’re older.
Apple Martin, the 15-year old daughter of actress Gwyneth Paltrow and Coldplay frontman Chris Martin, publicly criticised her mother for sharing an Instagram picture of her without her permission in March, commenting: “Mom, we have discussed this. You may not post anything without my consent”. Paltrow replied: “You can’t even see your face!” on the post. While Apple’s comment was later deleted, Paltrow’s picture is still available on the photo-sharing app.
Embarrassment was the most commonly-cited reason given by children who said they wanted greater control over the photos their parents share (62 per cent), followed by concern the images weren’t good pictures of them (45 per cent) and concern other children may make fun of them (29 per cent).
Strangers having access to the photos was a worry for 28 per cent, while an additional 18 per cent said they’d feel their privacy had been breached.
Expert guidelines recommend parents consider whether a picture has the potential to cause embarrassment to a child before posting, and to ask for their explicit permission.
“Each time a photo or video of a child is uploaded it creates a digital footprint which can follow them into adult life,” an NSPCC spokesperson told i.
“Before posting, we advise parents to consider whether it is something they think would make their children feel embarrassed or uncomfortable in the future. If they are unsure, then it’s best not to post.”
‘Innocent pictures can be harvested’
Internet Matters, which advises industry, government and schools on keeping children safe online, warned parents against posting nude or nearly-nude pictures of children, as “even innocent pictures can be harvested, posted elsewhere online and potentially accessed by predators”.
Both bodies recommend asking permission from other parents before sharing pictures of other people’s children and to check privacy and geo-location settings to prevent easy tracking of where a child’s home or school is located.
Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner for England, said sharenting was an issue many children confessed they worried about.
“With a child’s digital footprint often starting even before they’re born, parents should always consider how their child might feel now, or when they are older, about a picture shared on social media,” she told i.
They should ask older children for their permission before uploading and not post pictures which could cause embarrassment or problems for children when they grow up.”