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Quick facts:

  • The average parent posts over 1,400 photos of their children online before their child turns 18.
  • The average parent posts over 1,200 photos of their children online by the age of 13.
  • The majority of parents never or rarely ask their children for permission to post pictures of them online.
  • The majority of children wish their parents would ask permission before posting.

In this day and age it is impossible to scroll through your Instagram feed without seeing photos of kids. Whether it’s the new parent posting a picture of their beloved newborn, or the soccer parent posting a photo of their teen scoring a game-winning goal, it seems to have become an accepted norm to post a photo of your child online without thinking twice. And this is a trend that is rapidly growing.

We wanted to see how frequently parents post photos of their children online, and for those who do, how often they ask their children for permission to do so.

How frequently do parents post photos of their children online

Methodology: We worked with a data agency to take an anonymous survey of 1,277 parents in the United States who consider themselves “regular” users of social media. We asked for the parents to self-report how often they post photos of their children online on a weekly basis across different age brackets. We then multiplied that number across a full year and then totaled the numbers in each age bracket.

Age of the child Posts of child per week Annual average Bracket total
0-6 2.1 109.2 655.2
7-13 1.9 98.8 592.8
14-18 0.8 41.6 166.4

Overall total: 1414.4 photos

Anecdotally, when we reported to some parents that only 2 posts a week was still over 100 photos a year, there was a sense of surprise how quickly that added up over the length of an entire childhood. In other words, approximately two photos a week doesn’t seem unreasonable, but it adds up fast.

Interestingly, in other surveys, parents often talk about being wary of publishing photos of their children online but still do it anyways. In a survey conducted by McAfee found that 71% of parents agree that photos could end up in the wrong hands, but in general most parents didn’t fear this happening to their o

We also thought the decline in post frequency as the child reached their teen years was worth noting. While we don’t have specific responses from parents as to why this is, our hypothesis is that parents start to view the teenager as a more independent person, with more rights to privacy and choice over how photos of them are shared online.

How often do parents ask their children for permission before posting photos of them online

We also asked parents in the same survey to self-report how often they ask their children for permission to post photos of them online. The results made it fairly clear that it is still rare to ask for permission to post photos.

How often do you ask your child for permission to post their photo online?
Never 24%
Rarely 31%
Sometimes 15%
Most of the time 15%
Always 6%
Don’t know 9%

Other surveys have found that most parents don’t put much consideration into asking for permission. The McAfee survey referenced above also found that 58% of parents feel it is within their rights as parents of a child to publish photos of their children online. 40% of people in this same survey responded saying that it’s possible these photos could embarrass their child but that the child won’t care or would “get over it.”

Another study conducted by the University of Michigan found that most children 10-17 years old don’t mind that their parents post photos of them online. But most said that they do prefer it when their parents ask for permission. The children also noted that there are certain things they do not want their parents to publish. The Michigan study found that children are acutely aware of when their parents post photos of them, and can see a difference between positive and negative content being shared.

Some examples of what things children felt were off-limits when it came to parental sharing included photos of them with their significant other, photos of “everyday” activities, and other more private moments.