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Are you guilty of Sharenting?

by Sep 28, 2018

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Kids are born, have birthdays, graduations and tons of special events, and we as parents are sooo proud. They do silly faces and silly things with their friends and the family dog. And sometimes they scrape their knee and need a bandage, an outpouring of love and some sympathy. Living in this age of social media, we want to share it with the world. Well, okay at the very least, we want to share it with our social media friends and followers.

Celebrities have built followings on oversharing about their personal lives, allowing cameras into their homes and sharing photos of their children not long after their born. But we are not all celebrities and influencers. Most of us are average parents concerned with the heath, safety and digital well-being of our children.

While we recommend being protective and careful about your child’s digital footprint, we realize it becomes harder as they get into their teens and become more active on social media for themselves. As parents, we want to help shape their digital footprint for them from the start so they start out on a good path. We know that teens and tweens are prone to oversharing, but what about parents themselves? Oversharing by parents has its downsides both from self esteem perspective in addition to privacy and safety.

What is Sharenting?

From Urban Dictionary – “When parents share too much of their children’s information, pictures and private moments online, mostly on Facebook.” Though in reality, it applies to social media in general.

As I mentioned at the start, there are some parents who post tons of photos of their children to social media. Not all of them are celebrities. And this presents a real concern. In a recent study from the UK Children’s Commissioner , “Life in Likes: Children’s Commissioner Report into Social Media Use Among 8-12 year olds”, they studied how kids feel when their parents posted photos of them on social media. They noted, “Parents may be unaware of how their use of social media affects their child.” With sharenting, kids were “uncomfortable and bothered” because “They did not want a big group of people to see them, or did not like the way they looked, while others simply did not like being pestered and pressured by parents to share photos when they did not want to.”

In an additional study from FOSI (Family Online Safety Institute), “Parents, Privacy, and Technology Use,” they found that “19% of parents admitted that they have posted something online about their child that the child may find embarrassing
in the future.” While the thought of that may seem funny and innocent at first, kids have feelings and deserve respect.

Along with how kids feel about their parents oversharing photos of them, we have a few other concerns about oversharing:

Who Really Sees the Photos?

When you post photos of your children, those photos may not just be visible to the the audience that you have selected. For example, I share photos of my daughter with a sub-group of friends on Facebook (generally consisting of close friends and family). However, if one of those people likes or comments on one of those posts or photos, then the photo of our daughter will be visible to the friends of the friend that commented or liked. Thanks to Facebook’s idea of openness and sharing, the friends of my friend that commented/liked were the unintended audience of a photo that I had really intended for a small audience of close friends and family.

Are You Sharing Your Child’s Location?

Built into mobile devices are the location settings which are also enabled for photos. Whenever you take a photo, there is metadata that tags the photo’s location. This information is stored in the information of each photo. Over time, as you share photos, a profile of your child’s frequent locations can be built. In addition, parents often check in to various locations such as schools, soccer fields, dance schools, etc. This can be used to determine a pattern of when and where you child may be. For privacy, we find that its best to limit the amount of information that’s shared about your child’s location.

Are you in the Moment?

Sometimes parents get so caught up in posting photos to social media that they seem to be missing out on the event itself. Admittedly, I’ve even caught myself guilty of this. We all want to capture those life’s moments, and even share them with family members and friends, but in the process we miss out being in the moment because we’re making sure the photos get up on social media. Seems rather silly when you think about it, doesn’t it?

What can you do?

Here are some of tips to help remedy Sharenting:

  1. Limit the audience in which you post photos of your children as described above. It is not perfect, but it more private than posting to our full list of friends. In Facebook, you can do this by creating a group.
  2. Don’t check into locations. Checking in actually causes your post to be publicly searchable so this creates and even larger privacy issue. And we highly recommend not checking into your child’s school.
  3. Avoid the hashtag. Same concern as checking in, hashtagged posts are publicly searchable.
  4. It’s tedious, but you can go back and remove the geo-tag and hashtag from all of your posts if you desire. I did this a few years ago. It took about an hour. If you need help, check back, I’ll do another blog post on how to do this.
  5. Use a journaling app or your phone’s built-in photo app to save/sort your photos then post a select few photos to commemorate the event/occasion.
  6. Be in the moment. Snap a few photos then sit back and enjoy the school play, the dance recital, or the soccer game. Then later, after the event is over, go back and post a few pix. You may even find that posting to social media really isn’t all that important after all.

Need Help?

We know dealing with devices can sometimes feel like a full-time job. If you need more personalized help with topics such as parental control app installation, device management setup, home web filtering, or anti-virus software, schedule a One to One session where we can assist you via phone or video chat. Does your school, club or organization need a talk for parents and students about dealing with devices, social media and the challenges of juggling it all? Check out in fo on our Talks Modeling, Mentoring and Managing for parents and Digital Citizenship for Kids.