Should You Post Pics of Your Kids? Insights From Our Age of Consent Survey

If you use social media, you love posting pictures of your life and all the people in it. More often than not, those people in your posts are your family. In fact, social media has become a way many parents show their pride and document their children as they grow and move through life. In fact, 30% of parents report posting a photo of their child(ren) to social media at least once per day. To find out if parents actually get permission from their kids to post this content, and how that posting affects children’s privacy, we chatted with 1,000 parents of children ages 1 month to 16 years old in the U.S. and conducted what we call our Age of Consent survey*. Let’s take a look at the findings.

As it turns out, most parents (58%) do not ask for permission from their children before posting images of them on social media. Of those parents who do not ask for permission, 22% think that their child is too young to provide permission, and another 19% claim that it’s their own choice, not their child’s choice.

However, almost three quarters (71%) of parents agree that the images they share online could end up in the wrong hands. According to these parents, the biggest concerns with sharing photos online include pedophilia (49%), stalking (48%), and kidnapping (45%). Other risks of sharing photos online may also be other children seeing the image and engaging in cyberbullying (31%), their child feeling embarrassed (30%), and their child feeling worried or anxious (23%).

And yet, despite understanding the risks associated with sharing photos and videos online, most of these parents still post all the same. This begs that question – why aren’t these parents taking action to protect their family’s online security? The good news is they can start right now, by following these security tips:

  • Think before you post. Before posting a picture on social media, ensure that there is nothing in the photo that could be used as an identifier like birthdates, visible home addresses, school uniforms, financial details or passwords in the photo. Parents should ask themselves if this is a photo that they would be ok with a stranger seeing. 
  • Watch out for geotagging. Many social networks will tag a user’s location when a photo is uploaded. Parents should ensure this feature is turned off so as not to give away their current location. This is especially important when posting photos away from home.
  • Lock down privacy settings. Parents should make sure to only share photos and other social media posts with their intended audience. Services like Facebook and Instagram have features that allow you to share posts with only the people you are connected to/friends with.
  • Set ground rules with friends and family. Be clear with friends and family about guidelines when posting about your children. These rules can help avoid unwanted situations where a family member has shared photos without explicit permission.
  • Use an identity theft protection service. As the number of reported data breaches continue to rise, so too does the possibility of identity theft. An identity theft protection solution like McAfee Identity Theft Protection can help consumers proactively protect their identity and keep their personal information secured from misuse.

And, of course, to stay on top of the latest consumer and mobile security threats, be sure to follow me and @McAfee_Home on Twitter, listen to our podcast Hackable? and ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

*Survey Methodology: McAfee commissioned OnePoll to conduct a survey of 1,000 parents of children ages 1 month to 16 years old in the U.S.

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