Accordingly to recent reports two thirds of UK babies have been posted on a social media network within one hour of their birth. Anyone else find that a little weird? In this post I’m going to have a quick look at, and inevitably share my opinion on, the phenomenon known as ‘sharenting’.
This very morning a wonderful and exciting status popped up on my Facebook newsfeed. News worth sharing. Another baby is on her way to join the crawling and toddling army that my friends are quickly building in our early thirty-something years. All this got me to thinking about the wonderful Americanism – ‘sharenting’.
What Are Sharents?
Sharents are those who use social media and blog outlets to post about every aspect of their child’s life. These guys aren’t sharing a few images here and there with close friends, they’re the oversharers.
Nothing, no matter how gross or inane will pass without social media attention of some sort, be it the sight of Little Johnny’s first attempt at potty training, who they were last sick over, or the fact their nails grow really fast, every motion, movement and murmur will be recorded, burned into the annals of digital history forever and ever amen.
Personally I love seeing what the mini-me versions of my close friends are getting up to when I’m not there, how they’re progressing, what they’re learning, what strife they’re causing. Seeing the progress of potty training for the kids of people I used to work with 10 years ago and haven’t seen since…not so much. No offence.
Why Do They Do It?
Hampshire Baby magazine writes that print site Posteria surveyed over 2,360 parents with children under five years of age. 64% of those surveyed claimed to update social media with images of their little darlings more than three times a week. One in five say they upload images of their children at least three times a month, and only six percent said they never post images of their children.
The reasons they gave were:
• 56% do it to keep distant friends and families updated
• 49% do it to express their love for their child
• 34% believe it is the ideal way to store memories
• 22% admit it is a form of bragging
My Friends Are Sharents – How Can I Get Rid Of Sharenting Posts?
It can be pretty hard dealing with friends who are sharents without appearing rude. You could of course hide them from your newsfeed, but this means you won’t see any of their posts at all, which is rarely a good option.
It’s become so bad you can actually download apps to specifically change what you see, such as unbaby.me. Unbaby.me has since expanded into Getrather which now not only replaces baby photos with pictures of cats or meat, but replaces anything you don’t want based on keywords. For example you could replace anything included the word ‘sport’ or ‘Twilight’ or ‘Christmas’…literally anything!
What Is So Bad About Sharenting?
Now, I do get it to a point. I mean, for starters, this little bundle of joy is THE most amazing thing that will ever grace your path, and every parent is exceptionally lucky to have the opportunity to have a child. It’s no wonder people want to share with the world.
Mainly, they will use Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and so on so that their mum/dad/sister/brother/besties can see what’s been happening, and so that they have a backup copy of the image.
But this is what lists are for, not your entire friend list, by the way. Your ex-boss and that girl you met at a wedding don’t really want to know about Little Johnny’s bowel movements. In fact it’s probably quite perturbing for them. Plus there are so many other people to consider:
• Are you genuinely comfortable with ALL 500+ people on your Facebook page seeing images of your child?
• Do you genuinely believe that all 500 will want to see your potty training progress?
• What about your childless friends who want one or can’t have one? Do you think they appreciate it with such frequency?
• If you had a Facebook friend that was more of an acquaintance behaving as you are, would you appreciate it?
I can almost guarantee that the answer to at least one of these is no.
How To Create Facebook Lists
You can easily create lists on Facebook and share certain information with only the people on those lists. Some of these are predefined, but you can make your own too.
The predefined lists are:
• Close friends
To add friends to these lists:
• Scroll to ‘Friends’ in the left hand navigation of your home page
• Click on the name of the list you want to edit
• In the top right box add the name of the person then ‘add to list’
To create a custom list:
Scroll to ‘Friends’ in the left hand navigation of your home page and the word ‘More’ will appear next to it
Click ‘More’ and you will see this screen:
Simply click ‘create List’ and off you go!
I Don’t Care What They Think and Can’t Be Bothered To Make Lists
In that case you might not want to be friends with them anyway, but I think the biggest question here is ‘is it what the child would want’?
We most often allow a child to make their own decisions about how they will be viewed by the world; a lot of children make their own decision whether to be christened or baptised, whether they have their ears pierced, what clothes to wear.
Yet it is socially acceptable to create a social profile created without their knowledge, which they have no control over until many years later. Where their actions have been put into public view since the day of their birth and there’s little they can do about it.
Where potential friends/girlfriends/boyfriends/tutors/employers/co-workers may have access to the intimate details of their life from way before they are old enough to take charge of it. Even then, that information is out in the ether and you can’t bring it back.
Children have a right to privacy which true sharents may disagree with, or simply not see in the same way, and even one of the top guys at AVG agrees sharents are casting a digital footprint for their children that it will be hard to remove.
Tips For Sharents
If you’re guilty of sharenting but want to do it safely…
- Check your privacy settings across all social media platforms to make sure posts aren’t available to the general public and people you don’t know.
- Make sure not to post any personal information, and remember this could accidentally be given out via an image, such as via a school jumper or paperwork.
- If you’re about to post something, leave it five minutes. Do you still this it’s share-worthy? If so, crack on, but I think you’ll be surprised how often you change your mind.
The fact remains that the information you make public about your children is going to stay public somewhere in the ether, so think carefully before posting, and above all be safe.
Tip for Marketers
If you run a site, competitions, or other social media related activities involving children or parents, be mindful of these same points when carrying out your work.