AVG survey reveals extent of Australia’s ‘Sharenting’ habits”

Sharenting is yet another in the long list of new terms being spawned by social media. The act of sharenting involves sharing – or, in many cases, over-sharing – images of one’s child or children across social media platforms, and the ensuing questions about the child’s privacy.

Of course, children under a certain age are more or less oblivious to their parents’ social media activities, but once they become cognisant of their rights in later years, there may very well be issues around a perceived invasion of their personal digital space. This extends to the more sinister issue of personal safety as well, since exposing young children to social media inevitably leaves an indelible digital footprint which, in extreme cases, may be used to harm that child online or even lead to them being stalked or groomed, especially in later years when the child is active online but not yet fully aware of internet safety.

AVG, the global internet security and privacy organisation, has conducted research into the issue of ‘sharenting’, and published findings specific to Australia.

Looking at the details, it becomes obvious that many Australians are happy to engage their children with social media from a young age. 25.35 percent of respondents answered “yes” when asked if they “have posted a photo of (their) child to my social media, who at the time was under the age of three, without blurring or covering up their face.” A further 31.14 percent had done the same for a child under the age of eighteen.

3.99 percent of Australian respondents had gone to the extent of creating a dedicated social media profile for their unborn child – interestingly this represents 8.14 percent of male respondents, but only 1.82 percent of females – the biggest disparity between the sexes recorded in the report.

Furthermore, 7.98 percent of Australians have created a social media site for their child while he or she is under the age of three, and again the activity was performed predominantly by males, with 12.21 percent having made their child a social media site, compared with 5.78 percent of females.

When it comes to social responsibility around the sharing of images, 14.53 percent of males and 7.6 percent of females had posted an image of their child on social media without asking for permission, but blurred out the child’s face.

When dealing with other people’s children, it seems that Australians are more cautious about the images they share, with 27.35 percent of respondents claiming that they always ask for permission from the child’s parents before posting an image of their child to social media if there are other children in the background, or visible in the shot.

A significant number of parents also consult their children directly before posting images, with 18.76 percent suggesting that they always discuss with their children before publishing pictures of them. Males tend to be more active in seeking their child’s permission, with 24.42 percent of respondents in this category stating they seek permission, compared to 15.81 percent of females.

Countering the number of parents who actively engage their children in the social media landscape in Australia, there is still a fair proportion of regular social media users who never include images of their children. 27.35 percent of respondents stated that while they use social media themselves, they never involve their children.