Sharent is a combination of two words; Share and Parent. In this case it is about oversharing parent on the world wide web. Sharent or sharents are parents who overly share everything about their children online, be it on a blog, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr or any other social networks they have. Sharents share literally every single step their children make.
Actually I had this post as a draft since November last year. It took me that long to publish it because I still weighed the do’s and don’ts until a blogger friend encouraged me to do so. Sondang blogs about her life and her family. She often shares stories about her cute three kids. Recently she has considered to lock her blog to protect her kids. In her last post she mentioned she heard about the term mommyblogger from me. And that she also received question to the link about mommyblogger here. Therefore I published this information.
Before you read further on I would like to put a disclaimer regarding this post. I am fully aware that among followers of this blog there are bloggers who blog about their children. This post is just my two cents not a judgement. See it as an invitation to think over sharenting. It is written based on my role as a mother of a teenage girl and as a professional working in online communication. I hope to those this may concern that we are cool about it, ok?
Image is courtesy of Credomag
Reasons of sharenting
According to my observation these are the reasons of sharenting:
- Pride: Most parents are undoubtedly proud of their children. That is why they gladly share news about their children. On the other hand there are other people who love children too. These people like to follow how children of their relatives and children grow. Supply and demand meet here. And social networks provide a platform to fulfill this. With one click parents share first steps, first word online. With one click parents reach everyone in their network. With one click those who love pics and news about their relative’s and friends’ children, like it. It is easy, fast and does not cost a dime. Parents do this kind of things online regularly, Sharents do this excessively.
- Self-representation: I almost trapped into this one. Last year one commenter on my post about Raising a digital native suggested me to keep my daughter busy instead of letting her present online. I replied that G had many activities such as horse riding, dancing and playing with her friends. I present you this as an example because at that time I felt I needed to explain what G did in her sparetime. It was not necesarry to write about her activities though. In fact I intentionally didn’t mention G’s activities in that post because those were off topic. Not writing about them didn’t mean that G only spent her time on the net, right? Me doing that finally was a trigger to draft this post. Most mothers (the majority of sharents are mothers, hence the term mommyblogger) tend to be sharent because of the self-representation. Knowing women’s nature, those mothers think and believe if they do not share about their children, they feel they would not be a real mother. To be honest I did too. Me who put ‘loving mother’ in my online profile, I felt the urge I needed to share more about my child online otherwise I would claim something I was not. And that would feel so wrong. But then after weighing the pros and cons I decided not to share too much.
- Sharing: sharing is caring indeed. However the boundaries between sharing and showing off are vague. It is up to the readers to judge this.
- Overscientified parenting: Here is a new trend in sharenting: sharents attach a mini camera on their toddler’s helmet so they can see the world through their children’s point of view. These sharents share this online and other sharents follow. This trend is to me a form of overscientified parenting. Why can’t sharents let their children be children without constantly document, monitor and share the moments online?
Be really aware that what you post on the net, stays forever. Digital footprint of children nowadays begins when they are still in their mum’s womb. There is practically nothing wrong with that as expecting parents are overjoyed and want to shout out to the whole world that the little one is coming. What happens afterwards is crucial in forming the children’s digital footprint. The official definition of digital footprint is data trail of users of online media. The deviation of digital footprint of children from sharents is that it is not the children themselves who left their own data trail online but the parents as users.
Image is courtesy of MrSkylieMiller
My daughter G knows that I share stories about her once in a while. Two years ago she asked me to reckon with her privacy. I need to respect her wish. As privacy is an individual’s right. G asked me NOT to share stories in details about her, no pictures of her in a bathing suit and in underwear. She mentioned that she wanted to prevent herself from being bullied on or offline because I quote her ‘being a teen is complicated enough and life can be hard sometimes’. I completely understood this and took immediate action. Old pics of her on the beach on Facebook were deleted, checked.
Back to the kids pics in bathing suit and underwear, one thing I can not emphasize strong enough; do not feed the pedophiles.
Another thing concerning the privacy is the possible confidence issue. Posting pics of chubby babies and toddlers attracts many likes and lovely comments. Chubby little ones are cute, right? But what seems appropriate FOR THE PARENTS now can change with years. Who knows that the then chubby kids would not get confidence or body issues when they grow up after others find pictures of them their sharents put on the net and get bullied because of it? Before, sharenting these details of childhood came only to the surface during birthday parties. Today these are omnipresent, the information is retrievable 24/7.
Sometimes I am shocked how sharents easily put details of the places their kids regularly visit such as the name of the school, music and dance school. Perhaps some of you might think I exaggerate but believe me people with bad intention browse on the net too. Big brother is watching you know.
I once googled my daughter’s name and to my relief I did not find anything. FYI the reason I only mention her initial in this blog is my attempt to protect her. Now if I want to share something online about her I tell her about it. I use my pride as her mother, her blogging mother to persuade her and ask for her consent. If she objects I must comply. Even Google has complied to EU-demand about the right to be forgotten why should I not?
Sharenting is about the parents not the kids
A survey carried out by Eircom last February shows nearly 80% think parents overshare their family lives. I am guilty as charged but then I am one of the 80% also. Parents must realize that no matter how proud they are of their children, later on when the children grow up it will be their children who live with the consequences of the parents’ online actions. They did not ask for it, or in case of young children; they are not able to object against it.
My tips for sharing about children online are not THE TIPS but they could be useful to those who consider about sharenting:
- Keep the information general, as mentioned above no details due to security reasons.
- Feeling the urge to share pictures? Please do this but avoid uploading 8 similar pictures at one single time.
- Do not share information which could humiliate your kids later on (ex. pic of kids sick in bed who have just threw up).
- Be aware of third parties apps you grant access to your data at Facebook. Always always set the settings into private.
Not that negative
Despite my long explanation above I am not against sharing online. In fact many expecting parents benefit from the information shared about newborn babies. In turn, parents of young kids can easily look up for some parenting experiences of parents with teens. Many mommybloggers share interesting activities for their kids. Some are really creative and the tips are attractive to follow. How to’s and tutorials are also presented by parents who blog. Tips and tricks to deal with teens are easy to find to those who do not know how to deal with it. In short, sharing parents online provide us with a wealth of useful information regarding parenting.
At the end sharing is not negative at all, oversharing is. Sharing is caring, oversharing causes aversion and brings risks.