It was just the other day that I was scrolling through my Facebook news feed when I noticed a posting in a local Mom group. I could not help but think of “sharenting,” the act of oversharing information about your children on social media.
There before my eyes was the naked bottom of a toddler shared in a group with hundreds of members. I had never met this child and had no reason to be seeing their bottom on my computer screen. That child didn’t have the choice either.
Being the first adult generation to be raising children in an online world, sharenting is a new and unchartered territory our parents never had to contemplate.
Building a Digital Footprint Without Consent
It is so easy to take a cute picture, click and share. In an instant, all your friends can see the latest on your child. We are building our children’s Internet footprint, essentially without their permission. When you consider how prevalent social media is in life today, it is important to think through your posts and consider how it may affect your kids in the future.
I am the first to admit I can be quite share-happy. I’ve even discussed events in my life on this very blog site.
This online presence gives friends and family from all over an opportunity to watch my children grow up. In fact, the ability to stay connected is one of the best things about social media. Social media has reconnected me with old friends and helped connect me to new ones.
And, let’s be real, we are living in times where we mainly communicate through these channels versus an old-school phone call.
Besides, in a world where the news cycle constant bombards the senses with negativity, I’d like to think the smiling face of an adorable child can brighten a person’s day.
Think Before You Click Share
However, before I click share, I think about how my son would feel as a teen or adult if he saw the information and pictures I’ve shared. I’d like to think I am cognizant of how he could feel and that my choices would not embarrass or disturb him. If the day comes when he decides I should not post a picture, I will respect his decision.
It isn’t just his feelings I think of when I click share. I also think of our personal safety. I do my best to ensure my social media accounts are private and rarely share any photos in online groups. One can never be too certain who or what dangers lurk online. I would never want to be a victim of ID theft or digital kidnapping, where a photo is stolen and used inappropriately.
Parenting in the Era of Social Media
I believe sharenting is a new way to express parental love in this online world. As a Mom, a huge portion of our “self” is our children. Caring for them, and doing for them, becomes priority number one. In effect, sharing what is likely the center, and most important part of our lives is almost a logical progression in the era of social media.
As we navigate parenting in an online world, we should all take a moment to put our feet into our children’s shoes and think through the pros and cons of what we share online.
When we were teenagers busy picking the best song lyric to use as an away message on Instant Messenger, we could not have envisioned what social media would become. Similarly, as adults, we cannot fully digest the repercussions our social media usage will have in the future. The unknown is a hard pill to swallow. If we take a moment to think before we click, we can work to ensure that the digital footprint created is not one to frown upon.