Researchers have claimed that some parents are sharing more than 900 images of their children online before the children's fifth birthday, despite many not checking their social network privacy settings.

On average, 973 photos are posted online by parents before their children turn five, despite 17% of parents admitting they had never checked privacy settings.

Facebook is the most common platform for photo-sharing, with 53% of the 2,000 parents surveyed saying they have uploaded images of their children on the site.

Instagram was second with 14%, and more than one in ten (125) of parents uploaded images of their chidren to Twitter.

Facebook enables users to limit who can see what they post to the site by tweaking privacy settings between public and private.

The research also claimed that 46% of those surveyed had only checked their settings once or twice.

The research was carried out by online safety site The Parent Zone on behalf of the UK safety campaign Knowthenet.

The campaign claims parents are running the risk of over-sharing and creating a digital footprint their child has no control over.

The Knowthenet campaign is being run by internet registry site Nominet, whose chief executive Russell Haworth said: "We all love to share those precious moments in our children's lives with friends and family and sites like Facebook have made it easier than ever.

"While the web helps relatives to keep in touch and participate in our everyday lives, it also has the potential to lead to accidental over-sharing.

"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."

Parent Zone's founder Vicki Shotbolt said: "Today's youth is the first generation to grow up with social networks as an integral part of everyday life so it's important we stop and think about how they might feel about content that's shared now when they're older.

"No one would want a potential employer browsing through their baby photos, so making sure privacy settings are applied properly is always a good idea.

"Of course, parents should feel comfortable uploading photos to social networks but thinking about whether it's an appropriate image first will go a long way to avoiding any unwanted repercussions in the future."

The Knowthenet campaign also issued a list of tips to parents for sharing photos online.

It encourages parents to check their privacy settings and change them from the default, to think before they upload as well as staying up to date with updates to social media site terms of service and new features.