With a constant online social presence, it has become second nature to post our dinner on Instagram, share travel photos on Facebook, and express our political opinions on Twitter. While all of this has become part of our daily norm, it is changing the way we parent our kids.
As a parent we love to take pictures of our kids, talk about our child's accomplishments, and get the world involved in our family. While this output of pride is perfectly normal, could we be having a negative effect on our kids and their futures?
The parenting overshare, or "sharenting," isn't just our Facebook friends groaning over another picture of your kid covered in mushed peas; the phenomenon that's sweeping the globe could impact our kid's future.
According to research from the University of Florida Levin College of Law, 92 per cent of two-year-olds in the U.S. have an online presence.
“When children appear in Facebook photos, 45.2 per cent of the posts also mention the child’s first name, and 6.2 per cent reference the child’s date of birth, allowing all viewers to establish the exact age of the child,” the study notes. “On Instagram, 63 per cent of parents reference their child’s first name in at least one photo in their stream, 27 per cent of parents reference their child’s date of birth, and 19 per cent share both pieces of information.”
What we used to share with family, friends and coworkers is now able to be viewed by millions through social media accounts. While most of the time this isn't a big deal, sometime it can be.
There have been instances where parents have lost custody over there kids because of a prank, and you open yourself up to the world for opinions on your parenting style.
There are two very important things parents need to realize about sharing their kid's information online:
Nothing you share online is private and everything is permanent. You should absolutely make sure your privacy settings are where you want them to be, but keep in mind there are always ways around them. The same goes when you delete something off the web, you can never really be sure that it's gone.
Ultimately the information you're sharing is about your child, not you. Lucky for us we grew up in an age where our baby photos are likely not on the internet. That is a luxury our children will not have. A quick Google search can bring up a lot of things about your past, and for our kids, it dates all the way back to the day they were born. While we're all adults and can choose the things we want to share, our kids can't tell us that they would be embarrassed by that video of them dancing at their aunt's wedding last summer. Keep in mind of what could embarrass your kids, ten, twenty and even thirty years into the future.
Here are five questions to ask yourself before sharing content about your kids online.
1. Why are you sharing it? Do you want grandma to see the new outfit she's wearing? Maybe you want to show off that she can now write her name. Think before you post; since this is your kid's life, you should have a good reason.
2. Would you want someone sharing it about you? Would you want a potential employer to see baby pictures of you in the tub with your brother? Probably not. I'm sure your kid feels the same, so save those ones for your personal collection. While this isn't always a good gauge of how your child will feel about the picture years from now, it's a good benchmark of where to start.
3. Could your child be embarrassed about it now or in the future? While there is no sure sign that they will hate that you posted their grade 3 class photo, you can be sure that a picture of them on the potty is not appropriate for the internet, no matter how cute you think it is.
4. Is there anyone who you wouldn't want to see this content? Even if you're not 'friends' with your ex on Facebook, it doesn't mean he can't see what you share. Things always have a way to get dug up, even when you don't want them to be. Always remember: nothing on the internet is truly private.
5. Do you want this to part of your child's digital footprint? While we may only have a few pictures of us growing up, our kids have been documented since the day we got the positive pregnancy test. This digital scrapbook can be great, but these milestones will be part of the larger picture of your child's life. Keep that in mind before you share.