Sharenting: when are parents taking it one step too far? 

mom-photographing-child

Sharenting (or oversharenting) is a term used to describe the overuse of social media by parents to share content based on their children. It is related to the concept of “too much information”.

I didn’t make that word up if you’re wondering. Sharenting is becoming more and more common in the world of social media. Your baby had a massive poo explosion, it went everywhere including over you, so what do you do about it? Share it with your friends on Facebook. Your baby breaks through their first tooth, maybe I’ll share it on Instagram. Look at my daughter, she’s so angelic, sleeping so peacefully, I’ll share it on SnapChat. Social media has made “sharenting” easier than ever. But just because you can do it, should you? There are so many people who disagree with sharing pictures of family online, my mum is dead against her picture being up on Facebook and I respect her wishes as she is a private person, but when should we stop sharing pictures of our children? A national survey from the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, found that more than half of mothers and a third of fathers acknowledged that they share the ins and outs of raising their children online. They surveyed 569 parents with children who are 4 or younger and found that parents were concerned with the potential negative consequences for their children in the long run. Whilst I agree that if social media didn’t exist, sharenting wouldn’t be a problem, but parents share everything and I’ve seen on social channels a little bit too much shared by some. There should be certain boundaries in place to stop parents overstepping the mark. Not all settings on social channels are private. Sharing on Facebook, Twitter, SnapChat, Tumblr, Instagram and other platforms makes communicating with friends and family easier but privacy settings change so often, how do you know if it’s just friends and family looking at your children’s pictures and not the masses? You know, like your public profile on Facebook?

“By the time children are old enough to use social media themselves many already have a digital identity created for them by their parents,” Sarah J. Clark, associate research scientist in the University of Michigan’s Department of Pediatrics, said in a statement. “On one hand, social media offers today’s parents an outlet they find incredibly useful. On the other hand, some are concerned that oversharing may pose safety and privacy risks for their children.”

According to the survey, parents seem willing to call out other parents who over-share online. Three-quarters of parents say they know someone else who shares too much information about their child. More than half of those people classify the information as embarrassing or divulging too much about the child’s location.

For me, I share pictures of Emily with my friends, family and followers on my blog. But, I stop at certain pictures being shared online. I won’t share pictures of Emily in the bath, or in any moments of undress. I wouldn’t like it, why would Emily? I know a lot of friends who’s children don’t use the social channels their parents use to avoid embarrassment, most opting for the new cooler social networks that I couldn’t name if you paid me!

Some would dub me as a “sharent,” – a mum who blogs, tweets and posts pictures from my daughter’s life*. Whilst some may consider my blog as oversharing some information, I do think what I share is small in comparison to a lot of other parents who take it one step too far. American blogger Nerdy Apple made a decision to act on her son’s behalf to go to a party as Daphne from Scooby-Doo with a post titled “My son is gay.” There are just some things that parents shouldn’t share. I would be horrified if my mother did that to me and can’t help but wonder what made her feel the need to share something so personal, that wasn’t her news to share, so why did she feel the need to do it?

Sam and I have talked about which photo’s we’re going to post on Facebook, what’s appropriate and who would want a picture shared if family members are in the photos. For a few years, my sister disagreed with sharing pictures of her daughter on Facebook. Whilst she had been a user of the network for quite a few years, the constant change of the privacy settings scared her out of sharing pictures, and that’s totally acceptable. Some friends in the past have shared explicit photo’s and videos from their child’s birth, which personally I think should be kept between you and your partner, not for the world to see. Mostly because I don’t really want to see your bits whilst I’m eating my brekkie. There should certainly be a restriction of some kind when sharing about our children. The internet changes every day and social networks change privacy settings at a drop of a hat, most of the time not really notifying the user. I’d be interested to hear what others think on the topic, am I the only one that is thinking about this or does others think about this too?

*If “sharenting” isn’t your thing, you can take advantage of apps such as Unbaby.me, which helpfully replaces the endless feed of baby pictures with images of cats, or, if you prefer, bacon.

 

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