The increasing popularity of social media has led to the emergence of the phenomenon of sharenting, whereby adults (parents, relatives, school administrators, …) share, on social media, details (pictures, videos, status updates, …) about the children in their care.
All very innocent, right?
Well, there are many disadvantages, too – and I am not talking about boring your social media followers and connections.
Psychologists warned that sharenting can have negative impact on the child’s future emotional wellbeing (e.g., as a result of publishing embarrassing pictures or information). The police warned that paedophiles may use the images of children, or even target them based on the information provided. And, now, French legal experts warned that parents who share details about their children’s lives on social media (pictures, status updates, …) may end up being sued by their children for breach of privacy.
I suppose only time will tell whether this happens or not. What is certain is that all these data being shared about children are forming digital footprints for those children, which will follow them into their adult lives, and over which they have little or no control.
I am intrigued by this behaviour, and I want to understand the long-term consequences of sharenting for children’s evolving online identities. As part of this, I have been reading and talking with people about this phenomenon. It seems to me that sharenting delivers instant (or short-term) gratification. And, as the behaviour becomes more and more normalised, sharenting is on the increase and we are becoming less reserved about what we share. Well, for the time being, at least – it may change, if there is a big story about someone who was endangered as a result of sharenting, for instance.
From my reading and conversations so far, it seems that there are five different types of sharenting behaviour:Sharing key moments of the child’s life with relevant others;
- Sharing in an effort to obtain parenting advice;
- Sharing as a way of connecting with other parents with similar interests and experiences;
- Sharing as part of social media activity which generates income (e.g., by parenting or lifestyle bloggers; or by institutions);
- Sharing at the request of the child.
What about you? When it comes to posting about children (your child, a young relative, a friend, etc) on social media, are you sharing more or less, and why?