Social media isn’t just for kids anymore. Parents post photos, videos, and more on popular platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. Most of the content posted online by parents is about their friends and family. However, some parents cross the line and overshare and provide too much personal information about their children online. This oversharing on social media, often referred to as “Sharenting”, can actually put kids at risk. Below, we discuss what exactly sharenting is, the pros and cons associated with it, and what parents can do to limit themselves.
What Is Sharenting?
Sharenting is when a parent overshares content on social media about their child’s personal moments and information. This can be extended to the child’s grandparents, aunts, uncles, and other close relatives. Sharenting is especially common among new moms who want to share every moment of their child growing up online. Here are some examples of sharenting:
- Sharing pictures of your child finally being potty trained.
- Posting a video of your child’s soccer team winning the championship, tagging their team and location.
- Sharing every picture of your child losing a tooth.
When it comes to sharenting, many parents cannot agree upon whether or not it should be done. It’s ultimately up to every parent to make the decision for themselves, and to be careful with their online presence when it comes to their child.
The Problems With Sharenting
Disclosing Personal Information About Your Child
The general rule online is that a person owns any information published about them. This includes a child’s personal information posted by their parents. Once a child’s information such as their birthday, favorite color, and the sports team they play for is shared online, there’s no taking it back. It is accessible by advertisers, scammers, hackers, sexual predators, identity thieves, and other online criminals.
Others Can Share Photos Of Your Child On The Internet
Just like with a child’s information, once a photo of them has been shared on the internet, it is out there for all to see. Anyone can download or screenshot a photo of your child from your social media accounts. Then, it can be posted anywhere on the internet including explicit and child porn sites.
Tagging Your Child’s Location
Many social media platforms give parents the option to tag their location when posting. For example, tagging the field of your child’s sports game or of where you go to the movies. Location tagging can leave a trail of breadcrumbs for sexual offenders and stalkers to target your child in real-life.
Negatively Affects A Child’s Mental Health
Unlike what many parents believe, posting about their child without them knowing can negatively affect their mental health. When they see the post in the future, they may feel embarrassed, angry, or upset. For example, posting several photos of them partially naked as a baby and toddler on social media. In the future, they may feel embarrassed and personally compromised by those photos.
It Could Impact Your Child’s Future
Believe it or not, content you share of your child could negatively impact their future. This includes admission into colleges and job opportunities. These entities often look at someone’s social media history and digital footprint, which can be done with a simple Google search. So, your “innocent” social media posts of your child could turn up and cause them to lose out on a job or college admittance.
Can Sharenting Be A Good Thing?
Yes, sharenting isn’t all bad. Sharenting is a way for parents to let their friends and family know what is going on in their family’s life. This is fine as long as a parent acts responsibly when sharing content online. Some simple questions all parents should ask themselves before posting content of their children online include:
- Should I really be posting this? Do I really need to?
- Will my child be upset with me for posting this?
- Should I ask for my child’s permission before posting this?
- Am I okay with someone else posting this photo or video on the internet?
- Who do I want to see this post?
5 Tips To Reduce Sharenting
Stop Yourself Before Posting
Think before you post, and ask yourself the questions previously mentioned. Should you really be posting this and is it necessary? Is there a way to adjust my post so it reveals less of my child’s personal life?
Avoid Posting Any Revealing Images Of Your Child
As we said before, photos you post of your child can easily be downloaded and added to explicit websites. To prevent this from happening in the first place, avoid sharing revealing photos of your child, even if they are a baby or toddler.
Don’t Disclose Your Child’s Personal Information or Location
When you post, don’t tag your child’s location or personal information like their DOB, full name, address, and more. Keep your posts as vague as possible. For example, instead of including the name of your child’s sports team and tagging the field they play at, just mention that your child did an amazing job playing today.
Make Sure Your Accounts Are Private
To ensure that not just anyone can see your social media posts, make sure your accounts are set to private. That way, only those who you friend or are allowed to follow you can see your posts.
Check To See Who Can View Your Posts
One of the questions you need to ask yourself before posting is: Who do I want to see this post? On many social media platforms, you can adjust who you want to view a single post. Sometimes, you can even select individual people who can only see the post.
Depending on your view of sharenting, it can be good or bad. It’s an online practice that is not going to go away as long as the internet and social media exists. The main takeaway from all of this is that if you are going to share anything including your child online, think and evaluate it before posting it.
Check out our Smartphone Internet Safety Guide!