Are We Parenting or “Sharenting”?

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I can recall a day that one of my daughter’s play pals was visiting our home. I remember hearing so much chatter and laughter, so I decided to capture the moment. I grabbed my cell phone and entered the room. As I pulled my phone up to take a picture, my daughter did not flinch…but her friend took a deep breath and plastered this big beautiful grin on her face.

I lowered the phone and told her that she had a beautiful smile and she must love taking pictures. She mentioned (while still smiling) that she actually hated taking pictures but her mom makes her take them all the time! I let her know that I certainly do not want her to do something she does not like.

Her next response made me cringe.

She said, “It is okay, I know you are the adult and what you say goes. My mom likes sharing our life and everything we do with tons of people on the internet. She is always on her phone and taking pictures so I am used to it.”

I had to respond accordingly. I simply let her know that there are so many other ways to capture fun moments. Then I asked, “What do you enjoy doing? Do you enjoy drawing or writing?” She immediately lit up and mentioned that she loves drawing. I replied, “Perfect! If you girls have time before you go, you can draw a picture of the best moment you had today so we can have something to hold on to and remember.”

As I retreated to the living room, I decided to have a look for myself…I sat on the couch, pulled out my phone, and opened up her mother’s Instagram page.

Well, there it was…endless photos of a beautiful smiling girl: at the store, outside playing, on vacation, in her bedroom, etc. etc. etc. Pictures of her with hair combed and not combed…pictures of her in pajamas and formal attire. There were so many pictures posted of her young daughter with or without her daughter’s permission, all because of the mother’s personal platform.

This, my friends, is a term called “Sharenting”. Sharenting (or over-sharenting) is the blatant overuse of social media by parents to share content based on their children, such as pictures or details of their children’s activities.

As a child advocate, I wanted to ask the mother to slow down. Let her know she needs to take her daughter’s feelings into perspective and think about the impact. She is writing her child’s story before she has the chance to tell it, and she may not be telling it the way she remembers.

Trust me I get it, cute pics drive clicks!  However, what is the overall purpose? Was she posting the cute picture her child asked her to take and sharing because it is something that is going to have a positive impact on her? We must all remember that nothing online is private and everything is permanent. That mother is creating her daughter’s digital footprint, and it is only fair that the little girl gets to be an active part of the narrative.

It is easy for me to say this because I lean more to the “under-sharenting” side of things (if that is even a real thing). I rarely ask my kids to pose for a shot. That is the reason my daughter did not flinch. If you scroll through my phone, you will see that I have more action shots and pictures of the back of my kids’ heads than I can count!

Honestly, that is enough for me. Like most proud parents, I love to capture moments via my phone…so when I go back and scroll through I can remember the moment! I have never been big on inviting the world into my life, but I am not totally against it. Just have to remember: discretion & moderation. 

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