Wikipedia defines ‘sharenting‘ as a term used to describe the overuse of social media by parents to share content based on their children.
At the risking of dating myself, I joined Facebook in 2009 essentially to re-connect with all of my high school friends I hadn’t seen in -ahem- a few years. What a cool concept- all of the sudden I could catch up with people across the miles, see what has been happening in their lives and share with them updates in mine. And, kids? I hadn’t seen these people for -cough- a few years and couldn’t wait to see their kiddos and post photos of mine for them to see. We all did it. Proud parents having fun with new technology that melted away the miles and helped us reconcile the years.
But, then social media got scary. Overnight. Cyber predators crawled out of their disgusting holes and showed us their horns as they were featured on news story after news story for accessing and downloading photos not meant for them and finding ways to gather information from a post like locations, names, schools, and the fact that someone was home alone or on vacation. Pretty soon, the pendulum was swinging back the other direction for me- from thinking how wonderful it is to share updates about my life and my kids to being worried about safety and privacy.
I’ve run across several articles written about sharenting recently, and the risks as well as dangers of posting photos of your children on social media. It stands to reason if you think about it. The average person has 338 “friends” on Facebook, yet has only really met 80% of them. I’m guessing the statistics are similar for Instagram. You post photos of your kiddos on either, without the privacy settings locked down and maximized (and by the way, if you can understand and stay on top of the constantly changing options here, more power to you) – and there are essentially strangers and mere acquaintances out there who can do anything they want with those photos. Not to mention the information they may be able to glean from them if there are ill intentions.
How about what your kids think?
Is your 3 year old going to think the picture of him is as funny, cute or adorable as you do when he’s 15? Remember, what you post is there forever. You’re adding tattoos to their digital footprint for the long run every time you post a photo, video, comment that involves them. Will your child like what he/she sees that you posted on their behalf when they Google themselves in 10 years?
These are things OUR parents never had to worry about! So, of course we’ve all done it. Posted photos of our kiddos that we look back now and think- maybe a good idea to delete.
You had better be sitting down for this little nugget…
One more ASTONISHING fact and then a suggestion. According to an article that left me speechless, called “Parents: Think before you post to social media” (by Ann Jeffries of the Mansfield News Journal):
“A recent Gerber.com survey of millennial moms, age 18 to 34, found that 40 percent started social media accounts in their baby’s names, before the child’s first birthday.”
OH. MY. GOODNESS. Seriously?
My suggestion is this. Be selective. About WHO you are interacting with on social medial and WHAT you are sharing with them. As parents and adults, social media is not a popularity contest for us. For example, there is no need to post dozens of photos from vacation of the kids. Especially while you are on vacation- as in letting people know you are gone…not at home…house empty…come rob me…
Remember we are what we post. Everything we post reflects our personal brand. More importantly, we need to protect our kids’ personal brands, teach them how to post and interact responsibly by setting the example, and make sure that we respectfully get their consent before posting a photo of them.
Sharenting didn’t exist for my parents. But, it does for us, making it our responsibility to carefully manage the content we share about our kids and with whom we share it.