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‘Sharenting’ – Do parents share too much online?
November 28, 2016
Last week I was invited on Sky News, ITV news and Channel 5 news to discuss sharenting - that’s right, silly old me on telly, and yes that word does exist in the English dictionary now. In a rapid fire of tv appearances, I was asked to comment, in each case, on this not so new trend where parents blog, tweet and post pictures about all aspects of their children's lives.
Dragging my little mini me along was the hardest part, but she had a great time watching us on the big screen. You couldn’t see it but my daughter was sat almost directly behind the presenter, drawing on the floor… what a trooper! For the afternoon Channel 5 news appearance I managed to get Zac to take over and take the kids off my hands, but by this point I was well and truly shattered!
71% of people believe that parents post too much information about their children on social media
So there I was making my TV debut discussing why it’s okay in my opinion to have pictures up on social media of your kids. The debate is over whether sharenting is doing children harm by crossing the boundaries between public and private life?
New research by the Baby to Toddler Show which launched last weekend for the first time, has found that 71% of people believe that parents post too much information about their children on social media with nearly half (45%) believing that parents are just “showing off”
The way I see it, why not! I make a plethora of decisions every day, all directly affecting my family and no one is there to help or assist me. I’m managing (or winging if you like), this job every day and taking full responsibility for my decisions. Why should anyone wade in judging over something that affects them in no way whatsoever?
Just to be clear about something, we are personally very careful with what we post and very sparing with how often we do it too. For us, when we look at what experiences family life has to offer in this city, it’s important to tell it with authenticity and in doing so, show you our reality and story.
We never did the whole labour room blood soaked baby sharing thing on social media, but know lots who did. I know baby spam can be annoying, in 2013, a New Yorker named Chris Baker became so infuriated with the phenomenon that he created Unbaby.me, a tool that replaces baby pictures on Facebook feeds with cats, sunsets or rashers of bacon. But it’s about sharing happiness, however cringy it might be we should try to understand and appreciate that. Live and let live I say.
Giles, author of London
Emma Paton, founder of Finlay Fox and mum of two: "I am also a strong believer in real sharing - sharing the good and bad moments. Instagram is a community and none of us are perfect so it's healthy to respect that and show moments you want to laugh, cry, cringe etc."
The one question I was asked on all the channels was ‘how do you think your children would feel once they get older, with for example the bath pictures?’ I kept thinking please, point to a child who doesn’t get ‘aww that’s cute’ to pictures of themselves in a bath. It’s totally innocent. Personally, I think there's likely to be far more viral damage to a kid who shares a naked selfie via their iPhone than any picture Mum or Dad might post innocuously.
I mean lets face it who isn’t on social media? Even my mum is on social media documenting her life (I say that with a little nervous cringe). The world as we know it has changed and we have evolved into technology- how is it that my kids know how to use an ipad, iphone, mac and can live pause strictly on TV???
Social media is our newest reality and whether people like it or not it’s the new normal for social interaction. It’s an inevitable part of life, and if you think millennials are bad, just spend some time with a 15 year old and you’ll feel about as out of touch as a cassette tape. Everyone has a digital footprint, even those that try to hide it. To think Facebook doesn’t somehow make use of your private data in profiling you and helping companies sell to you is naive. It’s a level playing field!
Besides, all this sharing has a practical and everyday convenience too, helping so many keep in touch with family and share their stories. 82% percent of the respondents in the Baby Show research shared photos of their loves ones because they live miles away and that is just a way to keep a track of their family and seeing how they are growing. That includes us!
Of course, there are weirdos and legitimate concerns parents should have about where these images are posted. But make use of your privacy settings and be careful. What your kids get up to as they get older and more comfortable with technology, in our opinion, is of greater concern.
We are speeding towards a world in which our kids may well have fully fledged virtual personas, Zac goes on about this all the time - VR head sets et al. We should concentrate the debate on this, what dangers lie ahead? how can we keep them safe?
For now I feel the advantages of sharenting (to a balanced extent) far outweigh any negatives. In an increasingly fragmented society, social media allows us to stay connected to friends and family, and get support that for many is not easily accessible. On the plus side, it must be said that in an era when parents are more isolated, social media can create a sense of community. According to one survey, 70 per cent say they go to social media for advice from more experienced parents, while 62 per cent say it helps them worry less.
The truth is as mothers we should support each other’s decisions and not judge or criticise how we are doing things! We get it hard enough as it is. I say if you want to put pictures up of your kids on social media then do it!
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