Social media and technology have made documenting and sharing the early years of your children’s lives effortless. Be it their sonogram photo, first step, the first day at school, academic or extra-curricular achievements, birthday parties or a family vacation, most parents love to post everything and anything about their children online. Some parents even open dedicated social media accounts in their children’s names.
This type of parenting behaviour is known as sharenting. There are several reasons for sharenting:
- You want to talk about your children in general
- You want to showcase your children’s talent
- You want to be a part of the parenting community
- You want some kind of parenting validation, support or advice
- You want to boost your social media profile (especially if you are an influencer)
- You want your child to become a social media influencer
While it is okay to share some instances or accomplishments of your children’s lives occasionally or for a specific purpose, sharenting has its perils. According to research published in The Journal of Consumer Affairs, sharenting is a far more pervasive concern than most parents realise. It raises concerns about children’s consent and privacy, and also leaves them vulnerable to online predators.
Let’s take a look at the dangers of sharenting for your children:
Digital Footprint of Your Children
No matter how many privacy settings you put on your social media handles, no information is completely private or safe. The digital footprint exposes your children to digital stalkers who may use your child’s information for unlawful purposes. Even online businesses gather data about your children and use it for advertisement and marketing.
Violation of Children’s Privacy and Consent
Your children have a right to privacy and consent. Unfortunately, children may be unable to exercise this right because they may be too young or naïve to express their concerns. They may not have a say in your authority. Just imagine how would you feel or react when someone posts your information, photo or video without your permission, especially if you are private on social media.
Digital kidnapping is a type of identity theft of children. It happens when a stranger steals your minor child’s photo from social media or the internet and posts the photo as their own to get likes and comments. They even tag your children as an orphan or put them up for adoption to elicit money from people.
Sharenting also attracts cyberbullies. Online bullies can threaten your children with physical, emotional or sexual abuse.
Here are some tips to post about your children on social media responsibly:
- Ask yourself if it is necessary to post – what is the purpose
- Ask yourself if you would be okay if someone shares your post
- Make your privacy settings stricter
- Make your children’s photos and videos accessible only to a limited number of friends
- Seek consent from your child if they are old enough to understand
- Do not geo-tag the location of your children’s photos
- Monitor your child’s social media profile and filter the follower list
Sharenting wisely and responsibly can keep your children safe.