‘Sharenting’ is a combination of the words ‘parent’ and ‘sharing’ and is a term used to describe the over-use of social media by parents to share information online relating to their children such as pictures, information and private moments.
A child’s digital footprint very often now begins when they are in the womb. Many parents choose to announce their pregnancy news on social media using their baby’s first scan picture.
We live in a digital age, however parents can be at risk of sharing too much information about their children online and can potentially place their child at risk.
‘Sharenting’ tends to occur without children expressing their consent to the sharing of images and other content.
Some things to think about before you share:
Digital footprint: Most children have a digital footprint by the age of two. By being conscious about what you post as a parent, you are teaching your child a more responsible approach about appropriate information-sharing on social media. If you have already posted photographs take down photos which they find embarrassing and this will teach them to think about how and what they share about others too.
Think before you post anything about your child: How might your child feel about this photo or video in the future? Think twice about that cute or funny photo you may want to share of your child in the bathroom or bedroom. Could you be leaving your child open to ridicule or bullying later on in life?
Consent: Is your child old enough to give consent? Consent is not just saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’, it is about the child understanding what they are agreeing to. When asking their permission, it is important to discuss this with them in an age-appropriate way.
Age of Digital Consent: Be mindful that the Age of Digital Consent in Ireland at present is 16 years of age. The Age of Digital Consent pertains to the age a child needs to be in order to register for an ‘information society service’ which will be processing their personal data without the consent of the holder of parental responsibility.
Privacy settings: review your privacy settings regularly to see who can view your content. Keep settings private. Review your online friends and set your setting accordingly around who you want to view your information. Profile pictures remain public. Remember once you have posted online you no longer are in control of that information no matter how hard you try. Think about any identifying information you could potentially unknowingly be giving to strangers about your child, e.g. dates of birth, schools, childhood friends.
Family agreements: When your child is old enough, creating a family agreement around internet safety can be a way to role model positive social media use. This would include getting agreements from your children that you can check new apps etc downloaded but also that you agree to get your child’s permission before you post any photos of them online.