Parents post more than 200 images of their children online every year, but most fail to regularly check website privacy settings

So says a survey of 2,000 parents commissioned by Nominet, a body that campaigns for online safety.

Parents post an average of 973 photos by a child’s fifth birthday, according to  research carried out by the Parent Zone.

The study found that 17% of parents never checked their Facebook privacy settings and nearly half (46%) only once or twice.

Most parents (53%) use Facebook to share images of their children, followed by Instagram (14%) and Twitter (12%).

‘Despite 70% of parents claiming their main gadget for taking photos was a smartphone, fewer than half (49%) were aware that location data showing where photos were taken could be stored,’ said the pollsters.

‘Furthermore, parents are in the dark about who has the rights to images being posted online, as 39% believe they own sole rights to images posted on Facebook and 17% think the same for Instagram.

‘In fact, the terms and conditions on many social media sites, including Facebook and Instagram, state they have the right to use uploaded images to promote their services without explicitly asking the permission of the person that uploaded the photo.’

Nominet CEO Russell Haworth warned: ‘It’s important to ensure that the correct privacy settings are in place to safeguard our personal information and content.

‘Parents are creating a large digital footprint for their child from a young age, and the right settings are important if you want to stay in control.’

Separately, Facebook recently told AP: ‘Our terms are clear that you own the content you share on Facebook, including photos.

‘When you post something, you simply grant Facebook a licence to use that content consistent with our terms, including displaying it to the audience you’ve shared it with.’

Meanwhile, more than half of respondents (53%) admitted they had uploaded an image of a child that wasn’t their own.

Nominet’s top tips:
• Check your privacy settings: Take a look at your social network’s privacy settings and ensure that they have been changed from the default. Make sure you’re only sharing images with the right people and avoid oversharing

• Think before you upload: If it’s an image of a child, do you think they will thank you for sharing it once they’ve grown up? Consider the feelings of others before posting images – if the child isn’t your own, try to ask the permission of their parent first. Most importantly, remember that once a picture is uploaded to a social media site it’s very difficult to remove all traces of it

•Stay in control: Don’t use social networks as a replacement for your own photo albums or hard drive storage, as they could be at risk in the event of any technical glitches. And remember that some social networks will obtain rights to your images once you’ve uploaded them

• Keep up to date: Social networks regularly add new features and update their own settings so it’s important to keep track