Are You Taking ‘Sharenting’ Seriously?
By Andrew Tipp –
“Sharenting” is one of the latest buzzwords applied to younger parents, most of who have been brought up on the Internet; a generation for whom the web has always been readily available, and being active online comes as naturally as breathing.
But what exactly is a “sharent”? Does it apply to anyone with children? And what are the positives and negatives of sharenting?
A sharent is just a parent who shares the lives of their children through the web. Whether we’re posting photos and Facebook or tweeting short videos Twitter, many adults are now sharents. Some even set up blogs and personal sites dedicated to documenting intimate details of family life.
It can be great to share family moments with all your friends and colleagues, but what are the issues that arise from creating a digital footprint for your child from the moment they’re born?
Positives of “sharenting”
There are lots of pros and cons to sharenting. Sharing your child’s life with the people you care about online is an individual choice. It’s great to be able to let everyone know how your child enjoyed their birthday or first day at school. Ensuring you have a camera around will allow you to capture all those memories you would want your kids to be able to see when they’re older.
It also helps with family members who can’t be around, due to distance or for other reasons. Having an online presence gives them the feeling that they are experiencing their lives with them, even though they aren’t around.
Negatives of “sharenting”
One downfall of “sharenting”, though, is the constant nagging feeling of ensuring you capture a moment for prosperity, rather than actually enjoying it. Seeing your child’s first steps will be a memory that will sit with you forever, and not something you want to miss because you scrambled around trying to find a camera to capture it all.
But the main problem with all this being online is that it creates a digital footprint for your child. The last thing they want is to be 13 and have people finding photos or videos of them as a child doing what children do. It could lead to bullying along with resentment from your child, mostly due to the fact that the information was put online without their permission.
Think of it this way, the same thinking goes when your best friend posts a picture of you online without your consent for the world to see. Usually this is fine, but once something goes online it’s virtually impossible to remove it without a trace. This is all a very slippery slope should they find pictures of themselves online one day when they are doing a random Google search of their name. Not the ideal scenario, when you have to explain how their baby pictures are spread all over the Internet.
An even greater risk is identity theft occurring online at an escalating rate, along with dangerous characters scouring online profiles for any information they may be able to find about families and their children. Having a strong online presence for your child makes this information all too easy to get too, and can put your loved ones at risk.
Ways to be better “sharents”
The main thing about being a “sharent” is to use some common sense, like ensuring that your social profiles are only accessible by friends and family. So before you go crazy uploading pictures of little Jessie’s birthday, do a clean-up of your profiles.
Remove any random characters in your profiles who you do not remember, or people you think won’t be interested in receiving your daily updates. They will not be offended when you tell them it was because you did not want to spam them with the mass amounts of over-sharing you would be doing.
“Spamming” might seem like a harsh term, but fewer people might be interested in your family life than you think. Don’t overwhelm your friends or they may end up replacing your baby’s photos automatically with pictures of cats and bacon.
Some sharenting suggestions
If you don’t want to flood your Facebook newsfeed with baby photos, an alternative is to create a Dropbox folder which is shared with loved ones, and those who are interested in your child’s development. Send them a link to the shared folder, and they will be able to access it whenever they are interested in finding out how your kids are doing.
When setting up shared environments or generally sharenting online, just ensure that you are protected from viruses, scams and malware – you don’t want to give hackers the opportunity to get hold of any sensitive information you are sharing with people.
Most importantly, try to enjoy the moments you have, instead of fearing you may not capture the moment with a camera. Experiences are great to relive, but it would be a huge shame to not enjoy them in the moment because you were obsessed with capturing the moment.