Sharenting! When is information about our kids too much information?
Another new word for us parents is here! Yes, it’s our pleasure to share it here with you. Sharenting! Come on, parents; you know what it is! You may be doing it and not even know it! So here we go into the interesting new world of sharenting.
What is sharenting?
Sharenting (or over-sharenting) is the overuse of social media by parents to share content based on their children, such as baby pictures or details of their children's activities. It is related to the concept of "too much information," says Wikipedia. You probably also know how it is! A child’s first step? Must be photographed right away and shared with all those who love the baby. Of course, it must, but it’s about whom with and how you share it. Why leave out Baby aunty who knew you from when you were a young one? Should the whole world see it? Or should it be just those who know you personally?
How do you do this?
In this day and age when you can share pictures, videos, gifs and so much more with a mere swipe of the fingers, many slip into it easily. Also, the likes and shares, and the love the internet wraps around a nice image makes one feel warm and fuzzy. In fact, at times fuzzy enough to overshare. Often it is those we admire whom we follow into the sharent trap. The fit mother, who is famous because she has worked hard on being fit even after she gave birth. Sure it is inspiring! We certainly need role models who egg us on to be more fit, stay healthy and not let go of our fitness goals just because we hit a certain stage. Especially since having a young one also means less time for oneself. Often less attention to oneself from others and even our selves.
So when she whom we admire shares pics of her adorable bundle of joy, we also get enthused into sharing images and itty little bits about our joyful bundles. And sometimes get carried away and share many with a larger and larger audience.
So is this something parents should be concerned about?
A professor of social psychology in the department of media and communications at the LSE suggests that in this day of digital visibility it’s vital that parents share the pros and cons of sharing something about them with the children, no matter how young. (Source: The Guardian) But here is the tricky part. Most parents are more likely to share pictures of younger kids than older kids, and young kids barely understand what it means. Apple Martin, Gwenyth Paltrow’s daughter famously and very publicly called her out for sharing a picture without permission, but this is as a teenager. What about the Kardashian kids who have been on the net even before they were born? There are several of those who have become celebrities by the very act of sharenting. The issue, however, could be that when the kids are older, they may have a digital footprint that they have not created for themselves.
So while it may even be innocent and maybe not faulted in any way, it still may not be what they want. On the flip side, it may be not so faultless either and may embarrass them. Maybe a child throwing a tantrum is entertaining, but that is something that should stay in their childhood and never get on to the internet.
However, it is not all bad. Social media has its advantages too. As a new parent, we all need support, especially on days when we feel down. A home remedy, a quick tip, a shared experience, a solution to a problem can all appear as if by magic on social media. It helps build communities of like-minded people. It helps us hear voices that we would not be able to otherwise. It also gives us a voice - about a useful product, about a question that we cannot easily find an answer to, in a support group if we need one. It is here to stay and it's best to learn how to navigate it rather than bury our head in the sand and ignore it.
What can we do to make sure we are not over-sharing?
Try and keep out identifiable elements like uniforms or locations that are too easy to identify on sight. Remember those stories of teens getting trapped into unhealthy relationships by strangers on the net? Kids are of course, more susceptible to being led astray, but information posted by adults poses the same dangers to their kids.
Naked is No No. We all have baby pictures in the buff and have got laughs at them when reminiscing. However, what is ok in private is not ok with strangers. Considering that what goes on the net, stays on the net, refraining from posting such images is a good rule to follow.
Tantrums and meltdowns. Children may look cute or funny when they are angry or upset. But it is not fair to be seen that way when you are older and in professional settings. Treat even young children as individuals with rights and be sensitive to their feelings, present and future.
No location sharing. Geotagging is not a good idea as it helps map what you do and where. In the interests of safety, do not give clues as to where you live, when you are going to be away from home, and so on. You don't know who could be watching.
No regular routine sharing. Going to school may involve a cute ritual goodbye at the same time every day, but avoid sharing this on the internet. Similarly, if you and your child have a ritual exchange or code words, keep them private, again in the interest of your child's safety. These could be very easily misused by unscrupulous people.
Keep children informed. Very young children do not know much about it, but as they get older, you should have a conversation with the kids about what you are doing. It will help them understand and make decisions later on.
Respect their choices. Many young kids do not want to be photographed. Respect their privacy and choices. Do not force them to pose.
The digital world is still a growing and changing phenomenon. We are all learning as we go. Raising kids in these times is not easy, and even the simplest choices sometimes have us second-guessing ourselves. Making informed choices is essential and so arming ourselves with knowledge is a good thing. It will hopefully help us choose wisely and well. Happy parenting!