No other generation has grown up with such a public childhood, and it is likely that when many of these kids grow up, they won’t agree with their parents’ decision to have posted everything online. To what extent should parents share without their children’s consent?
It’s normal to want to show off our children or nieces and nephews on social media. They are funny and cute, and we want to share their achievements and antics with others. The important thing is to ask ourselves, though, is how much of this kind of exposure is right? Is it okay to share about someone without their consent?
“Sharenting,” a hybrid term comprised of “sharing” and “parenting,” means documenting and posting about everything–first smiles, words, steps, and so on–on platforms like Facebook and Instagram.
And, sharenting is on the rise. It’s such a common practice that the word can even be found in the dictionary as of 2016. Until recently, young generations did not experience this, and it’s possible that when these children grow up, they’ll be against their parents’ decision to have posted about them. Personally, I think they’d be right in being upset about it.
It’s important to ask yourself, to what extent is “sharenting” harmful? Some families want all of their followers to know everything about their kids, and they constantly post every little thing their kids do. Some say that it helps family and friends feel like part of their lives even at a distance.
This justification makes sense, as long as the photos aren’t too private. That said, others would argue that sharing photos of anyone without their permission is a bad practice. So, other parents are very protective of the privacy of their children, and while they are not any less proud of their kids, they’re simply very cautious, ensuring that their children’s rights are recognized and respected.
Any time a photo or video is posted of a child, it becomes a permanent record that will follow them into adult life. That’s why experts recommend asking children for permission before publishing something about them, and if they are too small to decide, we can ask ourselves how we’d feel if someone posted the same thing about us. When in doubt, leave it out.
Regardless of whether it’s a good or bad thing to post photos of our kids, we have to be super careful about what we share on social media, and above all, the kind of information that can be gleaned from our posts. Sharenting is a confirmed gateway for online fraud and identity theft. It is estimated that by 2030 sharenting could total more than $870 million USD in online frauds.
Often, we publish names, ages, dates of birth, addresses, school names, routines, and even pet names. Giving out all this information makes it very easy to for hackers to gain access to passwords and create fake identities. We also need to remember that certain images of children can be used for purposes such as child pornography and cyberbullying.
So, what can we do? IT security specialists say it is important to check your privacy settings and make sure we know exactly what information we’re making public about our children. We really need to stop for a second before posting and look at who is following us to prevent information from falling into the wrong hands.
Both Facebook and Instagram have options that allow you to limit what your followers see, and you can deactivate the geolocation functions when sharing images so as not to give out too much private information. Another great option is not showing your children’s faces, as a way of protecting their identity. Whether or not you decide to share images of your kids on social media, it is important to get informed and remember that anything shared on the internet is a permanent digital archive.