Sharing images of ourselves and our loved ones has become the norm these days, but as parents could we be putting ourselves and our little ones in danger by sharenting? Derived from the words parenting and sharing, sharenting refers to the overuse of social media by parents to share their children’s information, pictures and private moments.
Iris Lin, assistant director in Fei Yue Community Services and a member of the Media Literacy Council, sheds light on the dangers of sharenting and how parents can set boundaries.
Mummyfique: What are some of the dangers of sharenting?
Iris Lin: Children are put at the risk of identity theft and digital kidnapping – when someone lifts images of another person’s children and portrays them as their own. Some parents may publish real-time information about their children’s whereabouts, potentially risking their safety. In extreme cases, photos of these innocent children may also end up on paedophilia websites.
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What is the difference between sharing and sharenting?
It is indeed difficult to draw the line between both at times. However, sharenting happens when parents share too much information on a very frequent basis such that all events and milestones related to their young ones are online for everyone to see.
What are some guidelines parents should follow to avoid sharenting?
As children are young, they may not be able to speak out if they are agreeable about posting certain photos. Thus parents should have discretion about what to post and whom they should allow to view the information.
In general, if parents understand the implications and the importance of protecting their young ones, issues pertaining to sharenting will be minimised.
A quote by Stacey Steinberg, a law professor at the University of Florida’s Levin College of Law and the associate director of the school’s Center on Children and Families, may be helpful in such situations: “Don’t share something online that you wouldn’t be okay sharing publicly.”
Additionally, it will be good to set clear privacy settings to ensure that information about your children such as biodata and photos, can only be viewed by trusted family members, relatives or friends.
Iris Lin is the assistant director, youth division of Fei Yue Community Services and a member of the Media Literacy Council.