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Posting children's photos on social media divides nation

Ofcom reported that just over half of parents it surveyed said they avoided what it termed "sharenting" altogether.

A desire to protect the privacy of under-18s was the most commonly given reason, it said.

But about one in five parents said they posted such images at least once a month, the regulator added.

The figures are contained in the organisation's annual Communications Market Report.

It is based on an online survey of 1,000 adults carried out in April by YouGov.

Ofcom suggested that posting family videos and photos to social media had become a "Marmite issue" - a reference to the opinion-splitting food spread.

"Parents are really divided about whether it's sensible to share photos of their children online," Ofcom's consumer group director Lindsey Fussell told the BBC.

"The good news is that of those who do share, over 80% feel very confident about restricting who can see those photos... to friends and family, for example."

Of the abstainers, 87% said their offspring's lives should remain private, and 38% said their children would not want them to upload the material.

But 52% of the sharers said their children were happy for photos and videos of themselves to be online, and only 15% had concerns about what their children might think when they grew up.

Most of those questioned acknowledged that they tended to accept social media and messaging apps' terms and conditions without reading them, and half acknowledged it was not always easy to erase imagery from the net once it had been uploaded.

In light of the findings, the NSPCC children's charity urged parents to carefully consider the issues involved.

"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.

"It is always important to ask a child for their permission before posting photos or videos of them.

"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."

 

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