In June 2022, the term “sharenting” officially entered the lexicon of parenting as it made its way into the prestigious Oxford English Dictionary. This phenomenon refers to the growing trend where parents share details, images, and videos of their children on various social media platforms. A recent study reveals that over 40% of UK parents actively participate in sharenting, highlighting the prevalence of this practice in today’s digital age.
Parents embrace sharenting for a myriad of reasons, ranging from pride in their children’s achievements to seeking support from the parenting community. Social media serves as a repository for memories, a platform for advice exchange, and, for some, a lucrative source of income. Influencers, in particular, leverage sharenting for brand partnerships, turning their family lives into revenue streams.
Yet, this modern parenting dilemma comes with its own set of challenges. While parents are cognizant of the potential implications for their children’s privacy, the allure of social media as a support network often overshadows these concerns. New parents, especially, grapple with the paradox of wanting to connect with others while safeguarding their children’s privacy.
Complicating matters, external pressures from family, friends, schools, communities, and even major brands increasingly nudge parents towards sharenting. The societal encouragement to share, coupled with the lure of potential financial gains, creates a complex landscape for parents to navigate.
Research into the impact of sharenting on children’s privacy is ongoing, but early indications suggest potential risks. Some parents have ceased sharenting after discovering that their children’s photos became targets for predators. Moreover, studies reveal the ease with which third parties can gather information from parents’ social media posts, creating detailed profiles of children that could be exploited for nefarious purposes, such as identity fraud.
Social media providers, often interlinked in data-sharing agreements, compound the issue. Information shared by parents can be harvested by other companies, leading to the profiling of children and families for targeted marketing based on their interests and preferences.
To mitigate these risks, parents are urged to adopt secure practices when sharing on social media. Disabling geotagging on smartphone cameras and reviewing privacy settings are among the recommended measures. Adjusting account settings on platforms like Instagram, where default settings often lean towards public visibility, can help limit the audience to trusted followers.
Alternatively, private social networks designed for exclusive family sharing provide a more controlled environment. As the trend of sharing children’s information extends beyond parents to include family members, friends, and schools, proactive discussions about the portrayal of children on social media are becoming increasingly crucial.
Parents are advised to consider the long-term impact of their posts, as they essentially create a digital identity for their children, leaving a lasting digital footprint. Anticipating how children might view these posts in the future, especially during adolescence when personal identity development intensifies, is essential. Avoiding over-revealing or private content, including potentially embarrassing or compromising images, becomes a vital aspect of responsible sharenting.
Some research delves into the perspectives of young people on sharenting. While some children express positivity, feeling proud and connected through their parents’ posts, others voice embarrassment and anxiety. The crucial factor emerges as parental communication and seeking consent as children grow older. Establishing an open dialogue and using tools like the NSPCC’s family online agreement can facilitate understanding and avoid conflicts regarding sharenting practices.
In conclusion, the rise of sharenting presents a delicate balancing act for parents. Negotiating the fine line between sharing joyous moments and safeguarding children’s privacy requires thoughtful consideration and responsible online practices. As technology continues to evolve, so too must parental awareness and strategies to navigate the ever-expanding realm of sharenting. Future developments in this arena will undoubtedly influence parenting practices and digital etiquette, making ongoing research and open conversations essential for informed decision-making.