Ordinary babies today, seem to be destined to become extraordinary even before they are born. By sheer virtue of the fact they exist, they are propelled into the spotlight by overly-eager parents through photos and videos that depict everything from their first breath, to their first bath, smile, and poop – from every angle and sometimes, even through every filter.
We call this insanity, sharenting, and define it as being the oversharing of content focusing on children, by their parents, on social media. I’d like us to explore just how blurry the line between sharing and oversharing is, why and how you can protect kids from becoming nothing more than the parent’s marketing collateral.
How we end up oversharing
Every social media user forms their own dynamic with the tool. Some of us like to lurk around our friends’ profiles, checking their vacation pics with one hand and purchasing tickets to the same destination with another. Others are a lot more active in posting photos and videos throughout their days, sometimes from sunup to sundown; which is why we now have Your story and My day features on Instagram and Facebook.
The more we use the same social media channels, the stronger these behavioural patterns become so, while the family dynamic changes when we have kids, the core social media behaviour, rarely does. This means that a new parent will now keep snooping around friends’ pictures with one hand while rocking the baby with the other. Others, however, will post 15 times about their kid rather than food, outfits and cats.
What’s the impact
A social media power user who’s already posting multiple times a day, may see nothing wrong in simply shifting the focus from several topics to one. After all, they’re sharing their daily lives and their daily lives now involve a brand new, cute-as-a-button baby. It’s a bit more complicated than that.
Social media oversharing can get you in trouble, by letting thieves know when you’ll be on holiday, getting you fired, and even land you in jail. From privacy settings, to location check-ins, a very basic understanding of social media could have saved these people a lot of trouble.
Posting often, publicly about your and your kids’ routine can expose them to a number of quite serious dangers. From pictures and videos that will embarrass them when they’re older and make them a potential target for bullying, to making them more accessible to people who might take advantage of their vulnerable age, posting too much about your kids with no second thought to who can see those posts and how they might use them, can put them in harm’s way.
How to be sensible
We know you’re excited you’re a new parent and want nothing more than to share with your friends and family just how happy you are. So do that, share with your friends and family. Use those privacy settings and restrict your child-related social media activity to posts shared with people you know and trust, who are also much more likely to actually be interested in your shares.
While parents discover new and amazing things every day, the rest of the world is very unlikely to be just as mesmorised about your kid sleeping on his/ her right side rather than left. Think before you post and decide whether uploading every little thing is really necessary. There’s no harm in keeping some things for yourself, protecting the child’s privacy along the way.
Protecting your account will also provide some measure of security for your posts and conversations. This means activating those pesky two-step verifications, logging out of sessions when you’re done, logging in only from trusted locations and keeping passwords to yourself. No, 1234 is not a password. It’s an invitation to get your account hacked.
The Bottom Line
Ownership of multimedia posted on social media is dodgy, at best, and control of distribution is practically impossible. In other words, if you mess up and post something you shouldn’t, you can’t control who downloads your stuff and how they use it. It’s one thing when you do it to yourself, it’s quite another when you’re exposing your child to bullying, embarrassment or worse.
You can keep sharing precious moments with your friends and family through social media, keeping in mind that there’s always a chance you’ll loose control of who sees it and how they use it or that your kids might resent all the attention, once they grow up.
Most importantly, remember that memories are made together, not through the viewfinder.