Confessions of a sharenter
A few months back I decided to start a parenting column in a local newspaper, and while researching for articles on parenting I came across the term ‘sharenter’.
A sharenter is a parent who ‘over shares’ information about their child, whether it is cute travel pics, naughty playtime pics, food habits, milestones, even sleeping pictures of their babies.
Now to be honest, I was over sharing about my life even before my baby was born. In fact it was during the first three months of my pregnancy, out of fear that people might guess that I am pregnant, and would jinx my chances of happy motherhood, I reduced sharing parts of my day and life on social media, I deferred from sharing details of my pregnancy.B
So what changed after the baby was born?
Well, even the most social media averse person, tends to share happy news with the world. And there are people of FB who have only two posts on their wall; one when they got married, and the other when they had a child. The only intention is to share our joy with the world.
Over the past year and more I have met wonderful women, real women, who share their parenting struggles and joys, their guilt at not being able to breast feed, their struggles at losing weight,struggles at feeding their child or making their baby sleep.
Parents around the world are using social media outlets to receive support and advice for common child rearing dilemmas. Some of the more common issues that are raised are:
- Getting kids to sleep
- Eating tips
- Behavior problems
Now you have the entire world raising your kid, there are mothers in Mianmi sharing their vegan lifestyles, and dads in Ireland sharing their sense of dry humour through child rearing pearls of wisdom.
Also in a world of likes and comments, a baby picture is a sure shot way of getting ‘oohs , aahs and cho chweets’ . babies are only second to pet pictures in terms of cuteness quotient.But the problem is that while animals still don’t have a “violation of privacy” clause and will never grow up to be embarrassed by the pictures of themselves on the internet, or wont have to go to school and realise someone leaked pics of him in his bathing suit which his mom had shared ; a child will have his digital fingerprint all over the internet , and at some point of time may turn around and blame you for what you believed was “ just a cute picture of his bum.”
Most parents don’t realize that sharenting can endanger their kids’ privacy and can be excessive and harmful. Here are some examples:
1. Sharing of unauthorized photos: someone, who you may or may not even know, shares photos of your kids without receiving permission. This may even include "digital kidnapping" where other people steal pictures of your kids and share them as their own children.
2. Embarrassing pictures/videos: sharing pictures or videos of your kids that could embarrass them when they are older
3. Personal information: posting personal information about your kids on the web, that will never go away – may be used for cyberbullying or cruel jokes.
On one of our family holidays , I shared a picture of my then just an 18 month old toddler, turning to see two middle aged women in bikinis. It was one of those lucky pictures, where everything happens fast, it is a sudden movement, and you still manage to catch a great picture.
I shared it on my facebook, and before long I heard of news that it had been copied and shared by others, on multiple platforms. Talk about a post going viral. But I was not ready for it. It could have been a harmless “cho chweet pic” but what if in time it was misconstrued, or we were judged on our parenting styles, or what if it was a larger system of maligning us? what if years down the line someone turned around and said ,”you call your self a feminist, but your son has been ogling women since he was in diapers.” What then?
We cannot control what the world thinks, and it is all good till they are saying nice things, but even in the so called parenting support groups, they troll a parent for the parnting choices that they have made.
“Oh you feed sugar! Oh you don’t? “ “ He is bottle fed?! He was not cloth diapered?!
While I continue to share happy and memorable moments of my life with my son on social media, it is more of a open file where I can easily retrieve memories for MYSELF, and also share my journey with those who care.
Honestly , during a conversation on sharenting, I confessed that I might have shared lesser about my child if he was a girl. Maybe out of a protective nature , and a belief that there are more people out to prey on little girls than on little boys. But I maybe wrong, and who knows I might have shared the same amount. In my head and heart I do not believe I have put anything that he needs to grow up to be embarrassed about. I honestly have had his best interest at heart. But as a parent , especially a new age one where people coin terms like “sharenter” and have multiple “do’s and don’ts” one is bound to doubt yourself.
So this is me sharing my confessions. I know so so many mothers who share more about their children, and I respect them, I learn from them, I applaud them. Some have taken the plunge into documenting it on blogs, have become full time mom and dad bloggers, write columns about their experiences, share snapchat stories, and live videos of their childs antics , and I love it. I follow them, and I revel in our shared joys.
But there are a few tips that I read on sharenting , and if you feel any of them make sense to you , and you would like to follow, the list is below.
Pictures of your kids which you may not want to share online
1. Bath time photos - or any photo of your child partially or completely naked.
2. Photos of your kids when they're sick or injured - because you probably wouldn't want someone to post photos of you in the same situation...
3. Shaming photos - for obvious reasons.
4. On the potty - these should be kept private.
5. Private details such as full names, addresses, the name of their school, etc.
6. Group pictures because other parents may not feel comfortable having their children's faces on social media. Make sure you get their permission first!
7. Things bullies can pick on such as a certain weakness, fear or maybe a silly nickname
8. Them doing unsafe activities
I for one never share pictures of my son crying. Why? Because honestly in that moment of him crying, or throwing a tantrum, I really am too preoccupied to take a picture, I am just trying to console him, or ignore him as the ‘how to deal with tantrums guidelines’ suggest.There are travel bloggers who blog about travelling with their kids and all the pictures are with their kids backs towards the camera, some use code names like baby Z while addressing to their child, some blur out their child face in the pictures, some take artistic pictures of only hands and feet.