Sharenting comes from a blend of two words: parenting and sharing. The modern definition of the word is: parents sharing high volumes of pictures; videos and information of their children online.
Regardless of whether you don’t have kids, you’ve most likely got online friends who persistently post about their children, their birthday celebrations, trips taken, first steps, first day of school, pre-school graduations and so much more.
Sharing a couple of photos on social media platforms may appear to be genuinely innocuous, however, sharing every milestone of your children’s lives on social media may have negative impacts later on in life when they grow up to face the real world.
Possible dangers of sharenting
- Bullying and resentment: As a parent, you might share a photo or video of your child that you think is funny or cute. Because the content is online it has a potential to be viewed by many people who might not think the content is cute or funny and you might start to receive malicious comments. Sometimes, people may even be offended by your post. Your child might grow up to see this as an embarrassing moment they had when they were growing up that you decided to share with the rest of the world, because of that they might resent you.
- Online footprint: Just like when we leave fingerprints on everything that we touch, posting content on social media leaves an online footprint. If you decide to post pictures of your children online that ultimately means you are creating an online footprint for them as well. An online footprint is something that every individual should have the right of saying yes or no to. It is unfair for children to grow up in the world with a mark that they had no say to.
- Right to privacy: Posting content online by virtue of photos and videos without the consent of the people that appear on those pictures or videos is a serious crime in South Africa and a person can face jail time or a fine. If you are a parent and you have decided to share aspects of your child’s life on social media without their consent that is a violation of privacy and they have every right to report you should they grow up and not like what was shared online of them as minors.
- Social Media threats: Sharing too much of your child’s life on social media could put them in danger if you are someone who neglects to check your social media privacy settings. When you have your social media platforms open to anyone to view your timeline, a stranger might scroll through your timeline and access information about your child such as their school name, birthday, your child’s name and your home address. These are things that you would not share with a stranger face-to-face and exposing such information online is just as dangerous, if not more!!
How to share safely online
- The best way of staying safe online and making sure that anything that you share does not reach the wrong people is managing your social media privacy settings. Social platforms such as Instagram, Facebook. WhatsApp and Twitter, allow you to make your account private; anyone who decides to follow you is decided by you as you would have to accept or decline their invitation.
- It is also important that parents always put the needs and feelings of their children first before “likes”. If your children are old enough to understand then it is best you ask them if they want everyone to see their first tooth fallout or not and if they are not of age to understand the internet then take time to think twice about posting something that might embarrass them later in life.
- Communication is key, therefore always talk to your children, educate them about the internet, social media and the pros and cons that come with it. As they grow up, they will then make informed decisions on whether they want to be part of the wide web world.
- Lastly, to stop sharenting, just stop posting about your children. This is ultimately the best way you can protect your innocent little ones. Let them grow to make the decision of sharing their lives to the world on their own.
In conclusion, minors cannot make their own decisions and that is why there are laws that help to assist parents and guardians in making sure that children’s rights are not violated in any way or form. You can visit the Constitutional Court of South Africa website to learn more about children’s rights here.