British parents are divided about whether to share photos of their children on the internet.
More than half of UK parents – 56% – say they do not post photos or videos of their children on social media, with 87% saying the main reason is that they want their children’s lives to remain private.
However, 42% of parents say they do share photos of their children, with half of these parents posting photos at least once a month.
The trend of so-called “sharenting” has become increasingly controversial as social media sites have grown. Celebrities are among those who frequently share photos of their children, including David and Victoria Beckham, who have been criticised for posting photos of their five-year-old daughter, Harper.
A report by Ofcom found that of the parents who do share photos, 52% said their children are happy for them to do so and 84% say they only share things their children would be happy with.
The findings regarding sharenting are from Ofcom’s annual Communications Market Report, which provides a swath of information about the UK’s views on social media.
Ofcom found that Facebook is the most popular social media service in the UK, with 72% of adults using it, compared to 42% for YouTube, 42% for WhatsApp and 35% for Twitter. However, WhatsApp, Snapchat and Instagram have a fast-growing following.
The media watchdog found that young people were increasingly conscious of looking good online and portraying their life in the best possible way.
Selfies are the photos that those aged 18 to 24 years old share most on social media, compared with holiday photos for the general population. Of those posting selfies, 47% feel pressure to look good online and 71% think it is important to look their best, including 77% of 18-24-year-olds and 82% of women.
People take on average six photos before choosing a selfie to post online, but youngsters can take as many as 20. Almost half of those posting selfies say they edit the photo before they share it online, which includes using the filtering tools available on Instagram or Snapchat.
Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, said on Wednesday that users under 25 are spending more than 32 minutes on the app every day on average.
The editing of posts means that three in four adults think other people’s photos and videos “often” or “sometimes” give a “rose-tinted” view of that person’s life, according to the Ofcom survey.
It is apparently having a negative effect, particularly on the young, with one-third of respondents to Ofcom saying that other people’s photos left them feeling that their life did not match up. This increases to 53% for 18-24-year-olds and 45% of 25-34-year-olds.
Some young people resort to deleting selfies from their profiles if they do not get enough likes or retweets, or untagging and dissociating themselves from others’ photos and posts, the report said.