I recently came across an article by the Conversation referring to social media as the genie that won't go back into its bottle – a fitting description since nothing about our lives today is untouched by its influence.
Not only has it created new social habits, behaviours and trends but it's also altered the way we interact with our environment, perhaps most notably, the way we receive and share news (both personal and official); giving birth to a world where the average person is not only on the receiving end of information but is, in fact, central to its creation.
Family life is no exception. Spawning its very own online lexicon from pregnancy announcements, gender reveals, birth videos and every kind of first – parenting has gone full-blown digital.
Sharenting is the latest addition to the parental glossary describing the tendency by parents (particularly and understandably newbies to parenthood) to overshare about their kids on social media. It's got a Wiki and everything.
Basically, it's the sharing of photos and videos of adorable little cuties, status updates on their latest activities, abilities and achievements (regardless of significance or relevance).
But really, how is this different to any other user?
I didn't ask you to post about me: the 81 %
A survey by Parent Zone (a UK-based parenting website) found that by the time their child turns 5, the average parent will have uploaded more than 1000 pictures of them onto the Internet.
AVG, the internet security software company (rather randomly but impressively) polled several countries including Japan, the US, the EU5 and Australia and found that 81% of children under the age of 24 months already have an online footprint.
But this is not about shaming or judgement.
We're making things up as we go along with this social media thing – it’s always in a state of flux, new rules are made before others have even been understood.
Experts aren't even sure what jobs and careers will look like due to the constant changing anatomy of the digital world.
What's worth pointing out is the fact that parents should be extra careful about what they share i.e. information that could possibly reveal home or preschool address for obvious reasons. Criminals are on Facebook too.
Another common argument is that of embarrassment. That baby will only be a helpless little thing for so long. Before you post ask yourself if it'll be worth explaining the photos to an angry teen one day.
- Also see: Parenting in the digital age
Remember this little guy:
The amount of memes created around his image is probably infinite. He’s not mad about it now, but he is only 11.
We gon' be right
Elements of Britain's Data Protection Bill speak to the issue, advocating the " ...right to require social media platforms to delete information on children and adults when asked."
Given the number of memes, giphys and viral videos that contain young children, hopefully, other countries will follow suit.
When posting about your children do you consider what they'll think about it in the future? Do you feel like sharenting is just another form of shaming parents? Tell us in the comments section below or eamil to email@example.com and we could publish your letter. Do let us know if you'd like to stay anonymous.
- Your kids are not content
- Parent's guide: What to teach your preschooler about internet safety
- YouTube’s toddler app ‘full of disturbing content’
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