Why 'Sharenting' is Dangerous
Mon, April 19, 2021

Why 'Sharenting' is Dangerous

Parents share funny stories about their children, and it’s normal. With the explosion of social media, parents have found a new way they can share cute photos and videos with the entire world / Photo by: lightfieldstudios via 123RF

 

Parents share funny stories about their children, and it’s normal. With the explosion of social media, parents have found a new way they can share cute photos and videos with the entire world. Millions of them are shared every day. Most of the time, this isn’t a big deal. But sometimes, it is. 

Sharenting, a combination of sharing and parenting, can go wrong when done too much. This term is a feature of modern parenting where parents overshare everything about their kids, such as photos or their activities. A book titled “Sharenthood: Why We Should Think Before We Talk About Our Kids Online” written by Leah Plunkett argues that sharenting happens any time an adult in charge of taking care of a child transmits private details about a child via digital channels. 

According to The New Yorker, an American magazine featuring journalism, commentary, criticism, essays, fiction, satire, cartoons, and poetry, Plunkett stated that although those platforms are not exploitative, they could still accelerate a child’s entry into “digital life.” Previous studies projected that nearly two-thirds of identity-fraud cases by 2030, which will affect today’s children, will have resulted from sharenting.

A perfect example of this is actress Gwyneth Paltrow and her daughter Apple Martin. Earlier this year, she posted a photo of her and her daughter on Instagram. Although more than 150,000 people like the said picture, Apple wasn’t impressed at all. According to BBC, a British public service broadcaster, she replied on her private Instagram account with: "Mom we have discussed this. You may not post anything without my consent." Paltrow replied, "You can't even see your face!"

Many of Paltrow's fans have argued that she had every right to share pictures of her daughter since she is the mother. However, others stated that children deserve a right to privacy, too.

The Dangers of Sharenting

Parents sharing a few photos of their children on social media seems fairly harmless, but documenting every stage of their life can be extremely annoying and inappropriate. At the same time, it can lead to more serious consequences. One of the dangers of sharenting is that it reveals many aspects of your kids’ lives to people you are not close with or to strangers. Children may be too young to understand what privacy means, but that doesn’t mean that parents have the right to take it from them. 

Your children can also be victims of bullying. The photo you post with a caption relating to their physical appearance could upset them when they get older or could cause them to be bullied by other children. Sharenting also shapes their online reputation. Anything that parents shared related to their kids, although made with good intentions, could affect their future prospects. For instance, a post on your Facebook wall about an argument with them could contribute to their negative online reputation. 

Sharing your children’s photos on social media means that you are sharing their lives with the world. You’ve allowed strangers to scroll on your feed and find out your child’s name, school, birthday, and friends. Would you share this information with a stranger on the street? Of course not. H

Parents sharing a few photos of their children on social media seems fairly harmless, but documenting every stage of their life can be extremely annoying and inappropriate / Photo by: rawpixel via 123RF

 

New Moms Are Vulnerable

Researchers from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville interviewed 15 experienced and first-time mothers ages 24 to 40. They asked them about their feelings about motherhood and if they post information or photos about their kids on social media. The researchers asked them about their understanding of information co-ownership, privacy rules, and other principles of social media behavior. Lastly, the women were asked whether they were willing to share personally identifiable information about their children.

According to Science Daily, an American website that aggregates press releases about science, the findings of the study revealed that women's feelings of vulnerability about being a mother are linked to their posting on social media. Sometimes, those posts include their kids’ personally identifiable information, such as names, birthdates, and photographs. The researchers suggest that these mothers post and share information about them and their children as a coping mechanism. 

Most of the time, they are seeking affirmation/social support for or relief from their stress/anxiety/depression. "Every mother mentioned posting milestones ranging from the infant reaching the 'month birthdays' to children's firsts and other 'cute' moments. They then waited, at times eagerly, for affirmation in the form of likes or comments,” the researchers wrote. 

Avoiding Sharenting

One of the ways to avoid the dangers of sharenting is to imagine yourself in your child’s shoes. Are they comfortable with this? Will they be happy to know that you are sharing information about them to strangers? If not, then you need to stop posting photos of them.

However, if you are eager to share a thing or two about them without having the world see it, make sure that your account is set to private. Also, you can set up a Google alert with your child's full name. This can help you be aware of any postings about them by someone other than you. 

One of the ways to avoid the dangers of sharenting is to imagine yourself in your child’s shoes / Photo by: Antonio Guillem via 123RF