Parents share plenty of pictures of their children but ignore the consequences. Research McAfee shows that parents know what the risks are but still continue to share.
In the wrong hands
Almost three quarters (71%) of the parents believe that online photos could fall into the wrong hands. Despite the risks, 58% of parents believe that it is okay to post photos without their child's permission.
40% of the parents have thought about whether photos can be shameful for their child, but have posted them because the child 'can handle it' or does not worry about it. No less than 30% of parents post a photo of their child on social media accounts, of which 12% even four or more times a day. This is what cybersecurity specialist McAfee announces today on the basis of a large study that the company has carried out.
Aware of possible risks
Parents are aware of the potential risks of sharing online images of their child, such as pedophilia (49%), stalking (48%), kidnapping (45%) and online bullying (31%), but the majority of parents (58%) does not consider whether their child agrees to sharing the photos. In addition, 22% of parents believe that their child is too young to decide for themselves whether their photos may be shared online, and another 19% think that parents should always be able to take that decision themselves, regardless of what the child thinks.
Parents are aware of the risks of sharing images of children, but do not put this awareness into their actions. For example, many of the interviewed parents admit that personal information and privacy-sensitive details about the child are often shared with a photo. Consider, for example, pictures of the child on the first day of school, clearly stating to which school the child is going. The bright point here is that the majority of the parents (70%) only share these photos on their private accounts. That is of course a good first step, but much more can be done to ensure that parents protect the identity of their children more consciously.
"Sharing photos and videos on social media is of course a great way for parents to share what's happening in their lives," said Gary Davis, Chief Consumer Evangelist at McAfee. "Unfortunately, our research shows that parents do not or insufficiently reflect on what they post and how that can be harmful for their children. If shared images fall into the wrong hands, they can be used to retrieve data such as date of birth, home address, school and the full name of the child. This can lead to online bullying or identity theft again. "
Although parents are clearly concerned about the physical dangers that their children are facing, the results seem to indicate that the emotional dangers are less important. Only 23% of parents wonder if posting a picture may lead to anxiety or anxiety in their child and only 30% consider whether a child might be ashamed of a picture. Yet we must not underestimate the emotional dangers. Early research by ComRes shows that a quarter of children aged between 10 and 12 are ashamed, worried or even worried when parents share their photos on the internet. What is striking is that mothers are more likely than father to worry about the emotional consequences, with 45% of the fathers indicating that their child can get over it, compared with only 14% of the mothers.
"As a parent, I know how important it is to record milestones as a first day of school with photos," says tech expert Andrea Smith. "The desire is great to then share these cute pictures with friends and family via social media. Nevertheless, parents have to dwell on the consequences this has for their children. Parents should not only be aware of any shame in their child, but also of the long-term consequences that sharing such a photo may have. I always remind parents that they really have to think about what they share in public. "
Tips for parents
Be aware of geo-tagging. Many social networks use location when a photo is uploaded. Parents must always disable this feature to prevent their location from being shared. This is especially important when photos are shared outdoors.
Sharpen your privacy settings. Parents should only share photos and other posts with a consciously chosen, private audience. Platforms like Facebook and Instagram have settings that ensure that only your friends can see what you share. But beware: still consider everything you share as public!
Make arrangements with friends, family and children. Be clear to friends and family about your wishes for sharing photos. These rules can prevent unwanted fuss when an over-enthusiastic relative shares photos without first requesting permission. You should also comply with these rules to prevent shame, fear and online bullying.
About the research
For this study, McAfee interviewed 1,000 parents of children between the ages of 1 and 16 years in the United States.