eco Survey on Media Use and Children’s Photos Online: Only 9 per cent of parents cover their child’s face

  • Parents see themselves as having the greatest responsibility to teach their children media competence
  • Appeal to parents: Youth protection solutions support age-appropriate Internet use
  • Digital holiday photos: 5 tips for parents

It’s holiday time! And it is not only the journey to the holiday destination that children and young people like to while away by using digital media. Whether it’s a smartphone, a tablet or a Gameboy – digital devices are everywhere, even on the beach or at the lake. However, a critical and competent approach to digital media is the be-all and end-all when children are active in the digital world.

A recent survey conducted by the opinion research institute Civey on behalf of the eco Association shows that parents hold themselves primarily responsible for their children’s media competence: 66.1 per cent of the 1,000 parents surveyed said that the family is responsible for the children’s media upbringing, 22.4 per cent think that this is an educational task of schools, for example, and 4 per cent see the responsibility with politics. (*see graph 1)


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Teaching media competence is a task for society as a whole

The results of the survey also underline the more than 25 years of experience of the eco Complaints Office as a knowledge and competence mediator:

“The responsible use of the Internet and the teaching of digital competence must be understood as a task for society as a whole, as an interplay of parents, educational institutions, politics and advisory contact points such as the eco Complaints Office. That’s the only way it works,” says Alexandra Koch-Skiba, Head of the eco Complaints Office.

In order to develop their children’s media competence, 69.4 per cent of parents regularly explain how to use digital media, 52.1 per cent set concrete rules for media use – for example, fixed screen times –while 37 per cent have installed youth protection solutions for their children’s devices (*see graph 2).


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Few parents use smileys to cover their child’s face

Souvenir photos are also an important topic on holiday – how are pictures of children and young people shared safely via messenger services or social media platforms?

According to the eco survey, 81.6 per cent of all parents surveyed restrict the circle of recipients when they share photos via messenger services; 77.7 per cent do not send naked pictures of their children. But only 17.8 per cent of parents make sure that their child’s face is not in the picture. Only 8.8 per cent use smileys to cover their child’s face. (*see graph 3)


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Koch-Skiba advises parents to be more careful here. “It is absolutely understandable that parents take photos of their children on holiday and want to show them to others,” says Koch-Skiba. “But the decisive factor is what is shown in the pictures and with whom or on which platforms they are shared. Despite the fact that more and more parents have concerns, the survey results and our daily work show that a lot of awareness-raising work is still needed.”

* The opinion research company Civey surveyed 1,003 people between 27 July and 5 August 2022 on behalf of eco. The results are representative of parents of children up to 18 years in Germany. The statistical error of the overall results is 4.5 per cent.


Graphic download

Graph 1: Which actors have the greatest responsibility to teach media competence?

Graph 2: How do you teach your child to be a responsible user of social media?

Graph 3: What to know before posting a photo of your children on social media?



Digital holiday photos: eco Complaints Office gives parents 5 tips

  1. Do not share pictures in bikini, swimsuit or too much bare skin

As a general rule, the Attorney-at-Law and Head of the Complaints Office recommends not sharing photos in which children and young people are naked or only slightly clothed. This includes photos in swimwear. “Obviously, parents also would like to capture the trip to the seaside or the swimming pool, but precaution is always required here when sharing,” Koch-Skiba continues. Family photos can fall into the wrong hands and become sexualised.

  1. Cover or pixelate the faces of children and young people with smileys

Even with supposedly safe photos, caution is advised. In the fight against sexualised violence online, Koch-Skiba and her team also encounter seemingly safe images of minors fully clothed. “Even photos taken in the playground or at a child’s birthday party can sometimes turn up in paedophile forums and be put in the wrong context,” Koch-Skiba warns. “Anyone who covers their children’s face with a smiley, pixelates it or even just photographs the back of their head is definitely driving a safer bet here.”

  1. Check security settings

Koch-Skiba further recommends sharing photos only with relatives or close friends. In this regard, common social media platforms offer detailed security settings that go beyond the actual decision of a private or public account. “If I wish to share holiday pictures in my status – that is temporarily and for up to 24 hours – I can now decide for each individual contact whether the photos are shown to them or not,” says Koch-Skiba.

  1. Respect children’s rights

If possible, parents should also involve their children in deciding with whom they want to share their photos. “If you introduce your children to this topic at an early age, you are also doing important educational work for their future social media use in their teenage years,” says Koch-Skiba. With regular workshops at schools and parents’ evenings, prevention is also part of the eco Complaints Office’s remit.

  1. Report inappropriate photos

If Internet users come across inappropriate photos of children and young people, they can also report them to the eco Complaints Office.

Here, illegal content online can be reported with just a few clicks and without having to give your name or email address.







eco Survey on Media Use and Children’s Photos Online: Only 9 per cent of parents cover their child’s face