Is “Sharenting” a Risk?
As we become parents we are constantly met with the inevitable question of what’s ‘wrong’ and what’s ‘right’ when it comes to any decision-making process. I guess you could say this is the hardest aspect of parenting; making a choice for what’s best for you and your family.
And unless you live on an isolated mountain top, in an abandoned land with zero internet connection, you will eventually find yourself at a crossroads – Should I or should I not, post pictures of my children on social media?
@chrissyteigan, @jessicaalba, @kimkardashianwest
As humans, it’s in our nature to share most aspects of our life via social media. We share our success, we share our locations, we share information and we even share our most intimate mile stones and memories. Birth announcements anyone?
So with that being said, it’s no wonder that as we transition into parenthood we would want to share that too! After all, without the obligatory ultrasound picture and due date post, how would the Facebook world even know you were having a baby!?!
Posting as a parent, or ‘sharenting’, as its more recently known, is an addictive business. And for some, it starts from the minute you pee on that stick. Yes, I have seen many pictures be posted featuring the famous ‘I’m Pregnant’ stick!
But really, how much information is too much information?
When does the innocent posting commence and the potential risk begin?
Could it even start with the anticipated ‘she’s arrived’ post, or perhaps their first step video? Could it be the first tooth picture or is it their first day at school?
All just perfect examples of common sharenting from around the world…
With the global adoption of social media, we can now share with more people, more easily and at a quicker rate than ever before. Is this where the dark side of social media begins?
Because let’s be honest, there is a dark side to Social Media, a side that some of us have been faced with directly.
Unsure of what I mean? Confident you haven’t been a victim of social media?
Well let me ask you this:
Has someone you may or may not know ever vocalised a public dislike towards you over Facebook?
Or how about commented something nasty on one of your updates?
Perhaps someone has expressed an extreme difference of opinion, so much so you’ve taken offence?
Possibly you’ve been confronted with a picture or status that has caused upset or triggered a regretful response?
And the most commonly shared problem, I feel most of us could relate too is having Social Media influence our mood or mind in an undesirable way….
Let’s take a 20 something model with an airbrushed body to die for, or how about the ‘perfect’ ‘couple that just seem to be killing it in absolutely every aspect of life! I’m talking perfect skin, luxurious clothes, idyllic destinations…
Just one glance at this on a lonely Friday night can easily have a negative impact and have you questioning ‘Why don’t I look like this and why isn’t my life that flawless?
Which leads me to wonder, with the dark side of Social Media being so prominent, is this something we want to involve our children in, quite literally from the day they are born?
@sallyobermeder, @roxyjacenko, @zoetheysay
A recent US study found that 63% of mums use Facebook; of these, 97% said they post pictures of their child; 89% post status updates about them, and 46% post videos.
And with social media being easily accessible via our laptops, iPads and smartphones, these numbers don’t surprise me at all.
I’m the first to put my hand up and admit I’ll whip my phone out before actioning anything else, to ensure I capture the perfect picture, that ‘candid’ moment, the Instagram worthy shot!
So, with that in the forfront of my mind I’m starting to wonder; is this type of behaviour acceptable once you become a parent? Or are the dangers associated with documenting and posting our children’s every move just not worth the risk?
Because with the average child having had 1,500 pictures of themselves posted online by the time they’re five years old, maybe it’s time we stopped burying our heads in the sand and confronted this topic head on…
As a guilty party, I know that sometimes I would far rather act a little naive than to be confronted with some harsh and triggering truths. Paedophilia and Sex offenders is NOT something I tend to discuss over coffee and cake. However, with the question baring over us for the do’s and don’ts, its time to address the elephant in the room…
Dr Kirsty Goodwin recently wrote on her blog. “It has been suggested that 50 percent of images shared on paedophile sites have been taken from parents’ social media sites.’
With this confronting statistic staring us in the face, should it really be overlooked as much as it currently is? By continuing to post pictures of children, or more importantly our children and somebody else’s children, are we, as a society helping these numbers remain worrying high?
Are we as individual’s stabilising or even normalizing the unconsented use of our pictures?
Or perhaps, with the world we live in today, does it really make a great deal of difference with who posts what? Truthfully our culture has already transitioned so much, could we be past the point of return?
And with the continuing evolution of social media and its practise, how much influence would the stoppage of sharenting realistically have on usage of paedophile sites…
I suppose for some, it comes down to the question of how much action are you willing to take to ensure pictures of you children don’t end up there.
In addition to the harmful influence that sharenting could of have on these sites, it’s also easy to start focusing on the negative impact that over sharenting could also have on specifically our children and their mind sets.
As adults, and especially as parents, your role is to set an example, to mould your child and to influence their values. But really, what kind of an example are we setting by posting each carefully selected picture, moment and milestone? Is this real life or just a perception of life we would prefer others believe?
By obsessing over that perfect shot, the candid picture and flawless photoshopping, are we encouraging young children to behave in the same way. To grow up comparing their life to the picture-perfect bubble they see plastered all over Instagram.
Let’s be real, the perfect example of #FamilyGoals is never a true reflection of how that family lives or operates. Social Media is certainly lacking a sense of authenticity, but then again, I suppose that’s half the reason I find myself obsessing over the perfect page and Insta-worthy shot!
But really, what are we teaching our children, by mostly capturing those supposably ‘perfect’ moments? And by airbrushing any flaw we find?
Is it that life should always look that flawless? Or that if their life doesn’t reflect what they see on Social Media, then there’s something wrong with them and their world?
With Social Media I do find myself impacted at times, and we already know that children can be especially impressionable, therefore should we be more mindful when sharenting those less candid shots and focus more on teaching our children to love their ‘flaws’ and to recognise that as humans we all suffer through crappy days, ugly moments and painful times…
Truth be told, we are yet to really have an understanding of any long-term implications for our children, but if there is any, could this the perfect example of a sharenting repercussion?
Just as you would with any decision-making process, it’s important to way up the good and the bad. But for many of you I do know that finding a benefit to sharenting is something you just can’t seem to rationalize…
But, like anything, there’s always two sides to a story, and after doing my own investigations I did discover that researchers did in fact find an evidence-based benefit!
Researchers have found that, if used properly, social media use can have a positive effect on children’s education and development. Through social media, students can access and share creative projects, blogs, and collaborate on group projects.
In addition, social media has played an important role in helping to raise awareness and de-stigmatize issues such as depression and suicide among young people, through campaigns such as Mental Health Awareness and Positive Mental Health.
And, I should point out that there are extremely powerful pages currently existing, designed especially for mums, that do in fact capture those real and raw moments, to help support and inspire a more realistic ‘Mum Life’.
Because really, what’s more supportive than feeling like you are not alone…
For me personally, I utilise social media for a number of things. And the one positive that does stand out for me, is having the pleasure of waking up to those snaps, stories and pictures of my friend’s and family’s children.
And I too, love nothing more than posting pictures and videos of those special moments I get to enjoy with them all.
To me, there really is nothing more warm and fuzzy than capturing and sharing those little moments I know I miss out on living so far away…
I suppose it makes you feel that little bit more involved and a little less disconnected.
However, when addressing this topic with a couple close friends they did make, what they believe to be, a valid point –
If and when they wish to share pictures, the necessity for sharenting is still not there. They still choose to select how much information, if any, they wish to post publicly.
In their opinion, they will always utilise those private channels over the public forums, when it comes to their children.
And with technology such as WhatsApp and Facetime, I suppose sharing is easily made possible without having to delve into the Social Media world…
But then again, I guess some could also argue, how private is private when sharing through any form of technology?
And let’s not forget kids – Instagram and WhatsApp are owned by Facebook after all!
Whether you’re a guilty Parenting Paparazzi or not, there is undoubtedly enough mum guilt, judging and shaming to last us all a life time. So please, I ask that you make your choice and respect others along the parenting way….
We must also be honest with ourselves and acknowledge that the digital footprint is among us; whether you deem it good, bad or scary!
Nevertheless, experts do suggest we exercise more caution so, if you do choose to post pictures of your child on Social Media, you can follow some steps:
- Revisit your Privacy settings
- Change and update friends on Facebook and only keep people you are actually friends with.
- Don’t share your location
- Ask permission as your children get older
- When in doubt, don’t share. If your questioning the appropriateness of a post, perhaps choose a different forum?
And the one tool I have come to learn, be it with sharenting or not; pause before you post!
Usually if you’re hesitant or having second thoughts, then perhaps it’s a no for now.
And remember, you can always go back and re do. Nobody says that once you commit to a decision, you must stick with it. Maybe something works for you now, but you’ll need to re-evaluate later.
Go through, archive and delete!
Because love it or loathe it Social Media is here to stay.
How ‘guilty’ are you?