To post, or not to post? Despite being a familiar sight online, but many parents still feel uncomfortable posting photos of their children on social media.

When Ofcom surveyed 1,000 parents, they found that more than half (56 per cent) said they avoided posting images of their kids, or “sharenting”.

Posting photos and privacy concerns

The figures were gathered as part of the organisation’s annual Communications Market Report and reveal that posting photos on social media has become a “Marmite issue”.

Privacy concerns were the common reason for not sharing pictures of under-18s. A whopping 87 per cent stated that their children’s lives should be kept private, while another 38 per cent said their kids wouldn’t want to appear on their social media pages.

However, one in five parents admitted to posting such images ‘at least once a month’.

Out of those who share photographs, over 80 per cent said they put restrictions on who can see them, Ofcom’s consumer director Lindsey Fussell told the BBC.

posting photos

While privacy is clearly a concern for parents, 52% of the sharers said their children were happy for pictures and videos of themselves to be posted online. Only 15% of parents were concerned about what their children might think when they grew up.

Children’s charity urges caution

In response to the social media boom, the NSPCC has urged parents to think twice before sharing images on the internet, emphasising the danger of creating a ‘digital footprint’ for children without their full consent.

Every time images or information about a child is posted on social media, it forms part of an online profile for them which can potentially last a lifetime and beyond.

A spokeswoman for the NSPCC told the BBC that it is important to gain permission before posting any pictures or videos of children online.

“Each time a photo or video is uploaded, it creates a digital footprint of a child which can follow them into adult life,” said a spokeswoman. “For very young children, think about whether they would be happy for you to post or if it will embarrass them. If you aren’t sure, it’s best not to post.”

According to a report by the Family Online Safety Institute, 76% of teenagers are very or somewhat concerned about their privacy or being harmed by online activity.

In reality, it is unlikely that the baby photos we post on social media will affect a child’s future job applications or relationships.  But the question we should keep asking ourselves is this: What type of photos and information would our children want to see about themselves online in the years to come?