It’s not cute. It’s reckless.
So many parents engage in this behavior that it gained its own label.
“Sharenting”, according to Collins English Dictionary, refers to “the habitual use of social media to share news, images, etc of one’s children”.
To me, sharing images of your children online is a definite sign of reckless parenting. This is why I am rarely empathetic toward the parents who display, and even worse, defend their behavior in this sense.
I am completely against the practice and will list below the main reasons why.
Why You Shouldn’t Share Photos Of Your Children On Social Media
- It’s an infringement of your child’s right to privacy.
- It’s an infringement of your child’s right to consent to participate in contexts that concern them.
With only a few exceptions concerning their education or physical well-being, children should be allowed to decide whether they want to be involved in an activity or not.
- It’s an infringement of your child’s right to design their own social image, according to their aspirations and goals.
Children should be able to decide how they want to be perceived by the world and their efforts in building or maintaining that image should not be canceled by a parent’s actions.
- It impacts their future.
Can you imagine if your parents would’ve shared “bath time”, “nose-picking”, “supermarket mega-tantrum” photos of you, and then years later your potential employer or colleagues would’ve stumbled upon them online? Or even worse: Your employees!
- It impacts your relationship with them.
Your kids will likely resent you for doing this to them. Giving the world access to their most intimate, vulnerable, private moments. And they are entitled to feel like that toward you.
- It can lead to and fuel bullying.
A bad photo or an embarrassing one that you consider “#funny” can become the weapon other kids or even adults can use against your child. Choose your side carefully.
- It’s embarrassing, to most of them.
Children of all ages are upset over their parents’ sharing of elements of their lives — photos or information — that can be perceived as negative or embarrassing. While you would do anything to hide even your wrinkles on social media, you would have no problem exposing your child’s worst moments to complete strangers? We all have them, by the way. Just that people around us are more mindful and allow us to go through these periods in private.
- It may lead to digital kidnapping.
The average parent shares around 1,500 images of their child on social media before their 5th birthday.
Plenty of photos for someone to choose from and try to pass the child as their own, impersonate them online, or include their image in various types of scams.
- It may lead to inappropriate uses of your child’s image.
The police warn parents all the time about the risks of a child’s image being altered and used on illegal websites that have child abusers as their main audience.
- It may lead to real-life abuse.
The photos that you share online, especially when paired with other personal information about your child — their name, the school they go to, their routines, etc. — can allow an individual to reach them in real life. The reasons why someone would try to track down a child they’ve seen online are usually linked to harming the child or their family.
- It’s just about you.
Admit it. You’re using your kid for likes, comments, and shares.
Their photos get more engagement than yours. They trigger more emotional responses. However, kids are not props and they’re not your key to brand deals. It’s disgusting that you would even think of it as a viable route toward success.
- The child gets none of the benefits.
Your newborn, toddler, or young children definitely do not care about the likes their photos get on social media. Nor do they check the bank account to see how much they’ve made with their last branded post. The cheers of the crowds are irrelevant to them as well. So, please tell me, how is sharenting benefiting your child exactly? Don’t bother, it isn’t.
- It can lead to your child’s photo being turned into a meme.
Not many things are worse in the online world than having a bad context follow you everywhere you go and then spill over into your real life.
Photo use with transformational intent is legal. Turning your kid’s supermarket tantrum into a meme can take someone seconds to make, and it will spread like wildfire in a matter of hours. There’s no turning back. I don’t think I have to explain just how difficult it will be for that kid to turn social perception about him or her into a decent one when everyone looks at them and see the joke instead of the person.
- It’s likely a sign of connected bad parenting decisions and mistreatment of a child.
A parent who disregards their child’s rights in public will likely do the same or worse in private settings. Especially when I see parents defending their sharenting behaviors — I’ve experienced this situation a few weeks ago on Twitter when a mom defended her behavior even when the content was reported and taken down by the platform — I sometimes wish child protective services would pay these families a visit and talk to some neighbors.
- It can lead to a child’s skewed view of the world.
They’ve been exploited and betrayed by their parents or caregivers. The world joined against them. Why would they bother to trust anyone again? Why wouldn’t they cause others the same harm they’ve experienced? The distorted perception of the world they live in can take many ugly forms for many of these children.
- It sends the wrong social message.
We should protect children, as a society. Sharenting sends the message that children only have fundamental rights on paper but that as long as someone can reframe their decision involving kids into something that seems “positive”, those rights disappear. Subtle things can cause a lot of harm too. We should be aware, not numb to those apparently positive overt elements that may hide harmful intentions. Don’t close your eyes, don’t look away. Call out the behavior whenever you see it and most of all, do not engage in it.
You don’t own your children. You are only supposed to care for them.
Treat them with respect and decency, guide and show them the options.
Connect, empower, and support.
That’s what good parenting is made of.
It may not turn you into a social media influencer, but you will get “infinite Likes” from your kids, and that’s all that should matter to you and to all of us.