The ‘Sharenting’ Dilemma

How much posting on Facebook is too much?

Most of us enjoy sharing a pic or two of our children from time to time doing something special. It’s even been given a name: ‘sharenting’. Most Facebook users who are uploading pictures of kids are women, mums in fact, who want to share the trials and tribulations of life with their little treasures.

Thank goodness for mobile phone cameras which now allow us to never miss a moment. But therein lies the modern parent’s dilemma. Unfortunately, our phone cameras also mean it is possible to capture any special moment at any given time, so much so that we are possibly living through our smart phones rather than in the moment.

Facebook is 14 years old this year and some teenagers would have had their entire lives journaled online by their parents.

An online study of 1623 people conducted in 2015 by Vital Smarts looked at this ritual of taking and posting pictures of children and 58% of respondents reported that posting that perfect picture has prevented them from enjoying life experiences, and some even felt they had missed being present with their child.

A question from one of our Cybersafe Families Facebook followers prompts us throw another lens on this.

“I’m new to Facebook and I want to know if it’s safe for me to post pictures of my kids?”

Before you hit the post button it’s important to think twice about the safety aspects and the impacts of each individual post. The web never forgets.

Are your children going to be happy about their photo story when they look back over their public life?Parents are finding that their teenage children are asking for pictures of themselves to be taken down, or pleading with them not to post, because they find it embarrassing. Often a parent’s first response might be, “It’s my Facebook page and I’ll post what I like!”. Common courtesy is to ask friends and colleagues before posting a pic of them on Facebook. Are we giving our children the same right?

It might be a good time to ask yourself, “Who are my Facebook friends?” Someone you sat next to at a football game back in 2007? A friend of a friend you met at a party and connected with in order to tag them in a picture?

Maybe your friends list needs a clean out. After all, these are the people you are inviting to look at the aspects of our life you choose to publicly share. A good way to do this is to ask yourself, if you bumped into this person on the street would you stop and chat, pull out your purse and share your kids’ latest school picture? Would you tell them about family milestones or your new job? If the answer is no, then it’s time to do some deleting. Then check your privacy settings to ensure that only friends can view your pictures.

Right now there is no way of preventing other people from sharing the photos you have posted on Facebook. You can, however, limit your pictures to friends only. This way only your friends will see your images. However, this doesn’t prevent anyone from taking screenshots of your photos and sharing them. This is why it is important to know who your friends and keep them real.

The decision about what you post and how often is a personal one. Many people post pictures with the sole purpose of sharing with family and friends and staying connected, or to boost engagement with their community. This is how we roll today. It’s up to you to decide, only you can weigh up the benefits and risks so you can do what feels right for you.

The office of the eSafety Commissioner shares some advice on ways to share pictures that will reduce of the risk of your photos being shared more widely than you intended.

1.The golden rule, gain consent before posting pics of other people’s children. This is easy to forget when getting caught up in the excitement of school sports day or the Christmas concert. It’s also important to consider that in any large group of children there is the possibility of a foster child whose posted photo could put them at serious risk. Best to play it safe here and be sure to only snap your own little bundle of joy.

2.Ask yourself:
– Who might see it? Is anyone else in it?
– Will it offend anyone?
– Are there any identifying details in the photo? A picture of your child in his school uniform with his soccer club bag sitting in the background with a birthday card on the shelf will tell a predator all they need to know about where and when to find your child if they want to.

3.Sharing photos online can sometimes identify your location. Check your location settings and check which apps on your smartphone use geolocation

4.Never share anything indicating your children’s activity schedules online
Revisit your privacy settings, and check your settings on all social media platforms. You may have overlooked something. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

For any information or advice regarding ways to keep your family safe online contact Cybersafe Families

Facebook: Cyber Safe Families 

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