Following the news that Gwyneth Paltrow’s daughter was not happy when she shared an image of her online without her consent, McAfee’s research has revealed that 72% of parents don’t even ask their child if they would like their picture to be shared online.
Other key findings include:
- 20% of UK parents share at least one video or photo of their children on social media a day, resulting in approximately 1.3 billion images of children under the age of 16 floating around on social media a year
- Despite these concerns, nearly a third (30%) of parents share images of children on public social media accounts
- 40% of parents do not believe their child has the right to consent to their image being shared online – putting their identity at severe risk without their permission
- Over half (53%) of parents admit they have or would share a photo of their child in their school uniform despite the risk of giving away personal information
- Over a quarter (27%) of parents have considered that their child may find an image they upload embarrassing, but went ahead and uploaded it to social media regardless
John Fokker, Head of Cyber Investigations at McAfee:
“Social media is an incredible tool for sharing photos and images of our loved ones. We recently discovered that 20% of UK parents share at least one video or photo of their children on social media a day. However, much like Gwyneth Paltrow, 72% of parents don’t even ask their child if they would like their picture shared online.
“Parents need to consider the emotional and security risks of posting on our children’s behalf. Posting images of our children online without their consent not only creates an unwarranted digital footprint for them, but also exposes our children to other online risks as the images can be used to gather personal information like birth dates, school or a child’s full name. This can paint a picture of who they are, which could have serious repercussions ranging from identity theft to cyberbullying or much worse.”
Parental Tips for Safe Sharing
- Watch out for geo-tagging. Many social networks will tag a user’s location when a photo is uploaded. Parents should ensure this feature is turned off to avoid disclosing their location. This is especially important when posting photos away from home.
- Lock down privacy settings. Parents should only share photos and other social media posts with their intended audience. Services like Facebook and Instagram have features that allow posts to be shared only with confirmed connections, but everything posted on a social network should be treated as if it’s public. Deleted never means disappeared forever.
- Set ground rules with friends, family and children. Be clear with friends and family about guidelines when posting images. These rules can help avoid awkward situations where a family member has shared photos without explicit permission. Don’t forget that these ground rules should also apply to protect the children in the images from embarrassment, anxiety or even cyberbullying.