Sharenting : Parental Adoration or Public Humiliation?
A child with a birthday cake smeared across his face grins delightedly at his mother. Minutes later, the image appears on Facebook. A not uncommon scenario – most of the parents share photos of their children online while half of them share photos at least once every two months. Welcome to the world of “sharenting” – where almost 90% of youth have an online presence by the age of two. This is a world where most parents share almost 1,200 images of their child online before their fifth birthday. No wonder parents love to share pictures of their kids on social media. But we can’t blame them. For their kids are really stinkin’ cute, and so it’s too normal to want to show off their kiddos. With most babies making their social media debut within their first 12 hours of life, new research suggests that parents should think about how sharing online would be affecting their children’s safety and privacy. They have also suggested parents to be careful about the digital footprint they are creating for their kids. After all, what’s posted online is public and permanent. This might look like an adult sharing photos of their little one on a social handle with 300 friends on a small scale. While on a larger scale, this could mean a mommy blogger sharing the details of her child’s everyday life with thousands of Instagram followers. But despite everything, why do people still share their babies photos online?
Well, there are two types of parents. Some claim they use social media to keep friends and family involved and develop content for future scrapbooking projects. While the rest say ‘it just feels good to show off my kid”.
Are you Aware of It?
While many parents say they are conscious of their actions, potential impact and consider their children’s views before sharenting, a recent report on the matter suggests not all parents do. The “growing up with the internet” report reveals some parents share information they know will embarrass their adolescents while some don’t even consider their children’s interests while posting. A recent survey for CBBC Newsround also warns that a few children who’ve had their photographs sharented have gone through public humiliation by these actions.
As parents post about their children and their personal information such as their birthdays or full names––available to internet users. This might seem to be a parental adoration to most of you. But in reality, it’s not so. Such actions create a digital footprint for a child long before they’re old enough to know what that means. On top of that, the footprint doubles up as they get older and begin to use the social handles themselves. Parents should understand the plus points and the negative points of sharing their children’s images online.
The Risks of Sharenting
Last month, the UK Children’s Commissioner released a report called “Who Knows About Me?” illuminating how people collect and share children’s data and how that might put them at risk in the future. The report says that by the age of 12, parents have already posted around 1300 photos and videos of their children online. Not just that, even in 2011, it was estimated that people were only passing acquaintances with about 1/5 of their Facebook friends. Dear parents, can you just imagine how many opportunities relatives and strangers would be getting to screencap vulnerable or potentially embarrassing posts?
Now that 6.5 million more people have just had their Facebook photos exposed, it seems like it’s the right time to talk about online privacy, especially when it comes to sharenting. A thesis was presented at the American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference in San Francisco, “What Parents Should Share: Child Privacy in the Age of Social Media and the Pediatrician’s Role. It highlighted the need for parents to be given “healthy rules of thumb” when it comes to making online disclosures about their children.
Not sure if you should post that funny photo of your son trying carrots for the first time or leave it in your camera roll? Here, top experts weigh in on how to navigate the overwhelming world of sharenting.
Do you Know the 3 P’s of Sharenting?
There are three basic rules you should follow if you’re among the millions of parents around the globe who want to share photos of their child on social media networks and other online forums.
It’s not possible to be a parent today without having any knowledge of digital privacy. Whether you’re showing off photos of your newborn or allowing your teens to surf the web, there are so many restrictions you need to set as your kids’ safety and security is on you. All the social media platforms have multiple security settings that make photos and other media available only to those who have permission to view them. Keeping this media set to “public” gives anyone with a browser and internet connection access to them. So, in which mode are you in? Public or private?
Think about the picture you would be posting before you click the “share” button. Photos of children in the bathtub or any other posture aren’t best suited for the world to see. If you don’t want a similar picture of yourself shared, then you shouldn’t share one of your children.
This relates to parents of young kids. Top experts advise parents not to share photos randomly on any social handles. If you happen to post any of their images, information on this site, or anywhere else ever, it would be great to seek their permission first — not only out of respect but also as a good lesson in sharing. By asking your child’s permission to post the photos online, you’re teaching a lesson in online etiquette, which is lost on most surfers today.
While these three thumb rules aren’t full proof and won’t guarantee the safety of anything you post, they will tighten security and improve the odds. It will help you let your pictures be viewed by the people you choose to share with.
How can Sharenting Impact Children?
Be it Helicopter parenting, tiger parenting, or authoritarian parenting, each has its set of pros and cons. So does Sharenting. For some, this might seem to be a harmless activity, but with increasing cybersecurity challenges, there is a risk of these snaps or videos of your child being misused. Through the snapshots posted online, parents also share information regarding location and identity on the internet, which can be risky, with online predators who keep on populating social media platforms. In the McAfee survey, parents were identified with the risks of sharing content online, from pedophilia, stalking, kidnapping, and cyberbullying. Yet, most parents did not even bother about taking their child’s consent first. So, before sharing your child’s pictures online the next time, please consider the potential risks and how it can impact them. We bet no child would like to grow up to see such actions and get embarrassed on the internet. Hence, your child’s well-being should be your foremost priority.
Of course, social media can be a source of parenting support and communication with distant family members. So we are not trying to convince you to maintain complete radio silence about your families. Instead, we suggest you give more thought to what you post, eliminate unnecessary layers of information like geotagging, and talk to your kids about what’s being put online about them. This will not only improve a child’s sense of autonomy but will alert them early on to the potential dangers of oversharing and will give them a good sense of what is meant to be public and private.
So guys, what do you think? Is it really safe to share family pictures online, or does it put your children at risk of abuse?
Feel free to share your views about Sharenting!
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