Social media is setting unrealistic standards of family life and leaving parents ashamed and struggling in secret according to a survey.

The RealLifeParenting study, carried out by the charity Home-Start Scotland found that rose-tinted versions of reality depicted on platforms like Facebook and Instagram are putting parents under such pressure to be perfect that some are failing to seek help with physical and mental health problems.

The survey found 62 per cent said social media put them under pressure to be the 'perfect' parent and nearly more than half (51 per cent) thought shame about living up to what other parents were sharing online causes families that are struggling to delay seeking help. 50 per cent said people are being put off seeking help because they feel like 'bad parents' for asking.

The survey spoke to nearly 1500 people, only around a quarter of whom had sought support from a local Home-Start.

Families who do contact the charity tend to only do so after six to nine months of struggling.

Today Home-Start, which works to support families in communities across the UK, is launching a campaign calling for an honest discussion about the realities of parenting, which aims to expose the unrealistic expectations perpetuated online.

A spokeswoman for Home-Start said: "Struggling to cope with your children isn’t something that many people feel able to be open and honest about – parents are under pressure to be perfect. Instagram, Facebook and other social media platforms portray a rose-tinted version of reality, often painting unachievable levels of perfect parenting.

"Parents are fighting to live up to this image rather than feeling able to look for help when life gets too much. Not asking for help when it’s needed most can make a difficult situation worse."

Dionne, from Glasgow, found it difficult to seek help when she needed it after the birth of her son Leyton, because she had worked in care herself.

"I wasn't really aware of how to allow someone to help me," she said. "The hardest thing was to actually admit that I needed support. I'd always been a strong person and it was like admitting I was week.

"But everybody needs help at some point."

There are 31 independent Home-Starts in Scotland. Families struggling with post-natal depression, isolation, physical health problems, bereavement and many other issues receive the support of a volunteer who will spend around two hours a week in a family’s home supporting them in the ways they need.