While many parents have shied away from sharing photos of their children on social media due to safety concerns, “sharenting” goes a little further. Sharenting—yes, it’s a word—is a blend of “share” + “parenting” and is defined as the “practice of parents who document their child’s upbringing by posting photographs, anecdotes, etc. on internet social media”. Parents who practice sharenting by, for example, blogging, tweeting, or posting about their kids on Facebook, Weibo, and WeChat, are called “sharents”.
Dangers of Sharenting
As mentioned, the “danger” in sharenting has always been the concern about your children’s photos getting in the wrong hands. What if a pedophile were to get their hands on it? What if someone’s using your kids’ photos on a food label in a third world country? Just as we don’t want to have our photos taken and used without our permission, we also don’t want our children’s photos taken or used without our permission.
The easiest way to prevent others from having your children’s photos is by not letting strangers take photos of your kids, and by not sharing photos you take of your kids. Some parents don’t even let friends and relatives share photos in social media as a means of protecting their kids’ privacy.
Laws against Sharenting
The reason sharenting has been in the media as of late is because France has released privacy laws wherein they warn that parents who post their children’s photographs on Facebook could face jail time or hefty fines (up to 45,000 euros) in the future. Children, once grown up, also have the right to sue their parents for a violation of privacy.
In China, one’s right to privacy is in Article 2 of the Tort Law and is a separate civil right, which would technically offer children the same rights as the French privacy laws. However, generally the rights of minors are entrusted to their parents and guardians.
Emotional Burden of Sharenting
An aspect of sharenting that doesn’t get as much attention is the impact it might have on fostering an image consciousness in children, wherein one relies on the attention of others from social media in determining one’s self-worth. It’s unlikely that any parents wants their child to care excessively of what others think of their physical looks or behavior, and yet that is exactly what children of sharents are being subjected to when their data is posted in social media sites for likes and comments.
Future Consequences of Sharenting
Not only can a sharent’s social media shares become a source of embarrassment, leading to bullying or a sore reputation, but sharenting can also lead to serious consequences. The long-term consequences of over-sharing could be the negative impact it leaves on your child’s future. Where in the past, you might have only worried about over-sharing if you planned on your child entering the political realm; today caution is recommended for everyone.
As one’s digital footprint is investigated by potential employers, and even universities, it’s better to err on the side of the caution than risk your child’s future.
Laws to prevent sharenting do not seem to be an effective way to stop parents from exercising their right to share cute photos of their children. Instead, it’s better to encourage parents to think carefully about what and where they are sharing their children’s photos. Set privacy settings of multiple levels for all your social media outlets. And remember; don’t reveal all your child’s bad habits and behaviors to the public—or you might regret it one day!