‘Sharenting’ is Robbing Our Right to Privacy

Yes, sharenting is more than just posting your kid on Facebook.

“In the US, 92 percent of children have an online presence by the time they are two.”
– Business Wire

Social media has made its way to the hearts of parents all around the world who find pleasure in documenting their children’s lives. And although it’s considered a popular way of showing affection towards a child, we need to start a bigger conversation about the inherent conflict between a parent’s freedom to post and a child’s right to privacy.

sharenting definition (graphic by Anna Pattison)

Sharenting has become a popular term used to describe the oversharing of information when parents post about their children on social media/online. The annual American Family Survey found that overuse of technology is one of the top concerns for parents of teenagers. And while a significant portion of these concerns applies to the safety of children using social media, there is a concern that is often hard for parents to hear. And that is that children are now under intense scrutiny and stress because of their parents and other authority figures posting them on social media.

It’s typical for these authority figures to mention personal information about a child when posting simple announcements and updates. There are many children who make their debut on social media before they are born. Parents excited to document their parenting journey often share ultrasounds and gender reveals, but in the end, they reveal more than they should. 

Barclay’s statistics (graphic by Anna Pattison)

Privacy, it’s a word that we don’t associate with social media in a positive manner. Even by having a private social media account you are putting yourself and possibly others at risk. But regarding posting a child the risks are often higher and the implications of sharing and posting extend far beyond the inquiry of security. Parents at this point aren’t just caregivers protecting and admiring their children, they’re also potentially risking the distribution of information on their children to mass audiences.

We are in a generation where children who have grown up on social media are slowly making their way into adulthood, meaning that many of them are going to be entering the job market. By posting embarrassing or revealing photos and information about your child, it could lead to a future job interview discussing personal posts. And that goes for private online accounts as well. According to a survey conducted by Parent Zone, only 10% of parents surveyed were very confident in managing privacy settings, with half stating they only understood the basics. There are only so many ways to manage your privacy settings online, whether the account is public or private.

Although parents get a lot of gratification from posting their children online, in almost every case parents post their children without their permission. It’s important to give your children the right to say, “No, I don’t feel comfortable with you posting that,” instead of just assuming that the child is fine with it. There are many other methods of communication like Facetime, iMessage, and other apps that allow you to share a picture or information about your child in a safer manner. I am sure a child would much rather prefer other methods of communication over being a part of an internet post.

I conducted a survey to see how MHS students feel about sharenting. I received 50 responses from students ranging from freshman to seniors and the results clearly demonstrate that the majority of kids would prefer their parents to not post about them on their social media accounts. 

survey results (graphic by Anna Pattison)

Out of the 50 students surveyed 40 (80%) said that their parents post pictures of them on social media and 10 (20%) said that their parents don’t. To the left is a picture representing how often each student’s parents post pictures of them on social media.

Out of the 40 students surveyed whose parents actively post them on social media, 36 (90%) said that their parents don’t ask for permission before they post, while 4 (10%) said that their parents ask first. 

Out of the 40 students surveyed whose parents actively post them on social media, 30 (75%) said they would be fine with their parents posting them if they asked for permission first, while 10 (25%) said they wouldn’t want their parents to post them even if they asked for permission.

Of course, there are many benefits and positive experiences that come with posting children safely. It’s a way for family members and friends who live far away from each other to keep in touch and seek advice from loved ones. It can allow parents to connect with one another and relate to certain situations. Although being unaware of the risks you are putting your child at will only cause more potential harm than good. Kids and young adults are people themselves, and they deserve to state their opinion regarding something involving their own privacy.

If you want to learn more about sharenting and the child’s perspective I recommend check out this video by The New York Times!

Sources

  • Kamenetz, Anya. “The Problem With ‘Sharenting’.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 5 June 2019, www.nytimes.com/2019/06/05/opinion/children-internet-privacy.html. 
  • Lafrance, Adrienne. “The Perils of ‘Sharenting’.” Theatlantic.com, 6 Oct. 2016, www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2016/10/babies-everywhere/502757/. 
  • Rose, Megan. “The Average Parent Shares Almost 1,500 Images of Their Child Online before Their 5th Birthday.” Parent Zone, parentzone.org.uk/article/average-parent-shares-almost-1500-images-their-child-online-their-5th-birthday. 
  • Meakin, Nione. “The Pros and Cons of ‘Sharenting’.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 18 May 2013, www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2013/may/18/pros-cons-of-sharenting.