“Sharenting,” or oversharing children online, has become a problem for children, tweens, and teens in the digital age. Sharenting does seem benign in some regards. Who among us hasn’t over-posted in those early days of parenthood, eager to capture photos of all those sweet milestones? But according to a new ABC News Live report from Elizabeth Schluze, it can have dire consequences.
How Is ‘Sharenting’ Different Than Sharing?
For many parents, sharing a back-to-school photo or celebrating the loss of a tooth with followers has become second nature. Sharing innocent posts like these can be enjoyable for long-distance family members looking to stay updated. But some parents delve into the oversharing of private or embarrassing moments that could come back to haunt their kids.
Parents who post stories about potty training efforts gone awry or photos from bathtime risk leaving a lasting digital imprint for their children that can follow them throughout the years. This can even offer tween and teen bullies ammunition and give potential suitors or employers an intimate look into their child’s past.
Kids aren’t the only ones who lack control of this personal content. Many grownups have little control over this issue as well. “You really have no reliable way as a parent, or really any user of social media, of knowing exactly which eyeballs will be on the data that is reflected in your post, now or in the future,” Author Leah A. Plunkett explained to ABC, warning parents against sharing their children online.
Local Politicians Are Looking To Protect Kids From Oversharing
Washington State Representative Kristine Reeves has taken matters to the statehouse. She has introduced a bill to protect children from their parents’ oversharing tendencies, especially regarding sponsored content or other money-making schemes where parents use their children’s likenesses for profit. Language in the legislation hopes to give kids power over their online footprint once they reach a certain age.
Part of the bill guarantees them the right to “request the permanent deletion of any video segment including the likeness, name, or photograph” of themselves from “any internet platform or network that provided compensation to the individual’s parent or parents in exchange for that video content.”
The bill has stalled out but has growing support from those impacted by sharenting.
Kids Who Became Popular Online Thanks to Their Parents are Speaking Out
A young woman named Cam Barrett gave a tearful explanation as to why Kristine’s bill was so important to her. She felt compelled to testify virtually before the statehouse legislators and shared her story as part of ABC’s report. “When you Google my name, simply just my first name, childhood photos of me in bikinis will pop up, and I’m terrified to have them weaponized against me again.”
She detailed how her mother initially used social media as a digital scrapbook. Cam says her mom would “post paragraphs about like my day-to-day life, what I was doing….”
As she got older, those posts covered more private information, like her first period and when she was in the hospital after a car accident. “She was right there taking pictures when I’m like strapped to the gurney and I have a neck brace on. And it’s like, I needed a hand to hold, but like, it was like a camera put in my face instead.”
Think Twice Before You Share
Over the past few years, two notable studies highlighted how big of a problem sharenting can be, according to Al Jazeera. The first was a 2020 study in the United Kingdom. It showed that the average parent posted 1,500 photos of their child before they reached age 5.
Microsoft completed the second one in 2019. Of the 12,500 teens interviewed, an alarming 42 percent said they were upset over how much their parents had shared online about them. 11 percent confessed that the sharenting had become a “big problem” in their lives.
After reading this news, we’ll think twice before publicly sharing stories about our kids. As many of us know, the internet is forever. And some private moments really should remain confidential, especially when it comes to our kiddos.