On those evenings scrolling through your friends’ feeds, you might’ve consciously — or subconsciously — encountered Sharenting; the act of parents sharing images of their children online without their permission. If you have, this is for you. If you haven’t, well, this could come in handy down the line.
Sharenting’s not what it used to be. Let’s set the scene. The year’s 1999. It’s the grand unveiling, you’re about to introduce your new partner to your parents, they’re coming to stay with you for a long weekend. Dinner’s underway and Dad’s become a stand-up comedian overnight. You’re slaloming through a selection of childhood stories relatively unscathed.
Just as you’re ready to sink into the sofa with a stiff drink, you hear a commotion in the other room. The forgotten summer you spent almost entirely naked around the paddling pool is changing hands, the photo albums are out. Your jaw hits the floor.
But that was then. Now, it’s incredible the extent to which social media has muddied the waters for us all.
The term Sharenting spilled over into mainstream consciousness last year after Gwyneth Paltrow’s daughter Apple responded to a photo her mum had posted on Instagram:
“Mom, we have discussed this. You may not post anything without my consent.”
This got a lot of children, and parents — and journalists — talking. In a study published by Grow Media, 81% of 8–17-year-olds said they know when and how to ask permission to post something about someone else. When something was shared without their consent, a small proportion didn’t mind (15%) but 44% felt angry, and a further 46% felt anxious or not in control.
A child’s digital footprint, every chapter of their life, is already online by the time they’re old enough to make their own lunch and it’s a far-cry, a different animal, from the annual dusting off of photo boxes. So how do you avoid falling into this trap? Well, as there are no legal policies in place to govern the agency parents have over sharing content of their children, self-awareness is the name of the game. Here are a few tips to offset the emotional blowback when your kids come of age:
- Put yourself in their shoes
Take a moment before posting to ask yourself, “Would I want my Mum to share this picture of me?”
2. Set up a family account
Set up an account for your truest followers. After all, they’re the ones you’re really trying to reach.
3. Keep it positive
This one should be obvious, don’t embarrass your kids. There’s enough of that in person. This includes dancing, let’s discuss that another time.
4. Raise your game
Take better pictures of authentic moments and be more selective. Being both mindful of the quality and whether it’s appropriate will reduce the temptation to overshare.
5. Change the channel
Get physical, send something real or frame the wall-worthy moments. Whichever it is, share memories that outlast the social feed.
It’s all about finding the right balance, everything in moderation. You never think you’re doing anything wrong until the tables turn and your child decides that they are now, in fact, in charge of their image. So, get ahead of the curve before the point of no return!