Christmas & New Year 2016
New research has revealed that almost three quarters of people (71%) think parents post too much information about their children on social media.
The study by the Baby to Toddler Show, has also revealed that nearly half (45%) believe that parents are just "showing off".
It’s not a surprise that some people find us parents annoying on Facebook. Research by Nominet found that the average parent in the UK with a social media account will have posted a whopping 1,498 photos of their child online by their fifth birthday! Similarly, the term ‘sharenting’ – the habitual use of social media to share news and images of one’s children, has recently been added to the Collins English Dictionary.
However, not surprisingly, parents who post disagree they do it too much and say the most common reason (82%) for sharing is to connect with friends and family members they don’t see often, followed by nearly half (49%) saying they want to record their child’s key milestones and memories for them to look back on in the future. But what about how our children feel about the digital footprint we are leaving for them? Many parents (37%) confessed that they haven’t even considered how their kids will feel when they’re older, knowing that photos of them growing up are all over the internet. Of those who had considered their children’s feelings, over a third (36%) believed they would grow up and treasure the memories, with just seven per cent believing their children would be embarrassed. Keen to find out what local parents thought, we took the debate to our Facebook community of mums and dads…
The results were quite evenly matched with many respondents admitting that they could see both sides of the argument. Mum Kerrie Young agreed that some parents put far too many snaps of their kids on the internet saying, “I personally have no pictures at all of my son on social media sites. It’s not going to benefit a child in any way to be on the internet, and it is a huge risk. With all the recent media coverage about child protection, people still post intimate pictures of their children e.g. when they are in the bath and celebrities wonder why they get kidnap threats about their children when they plaster images of them all over the net and everyone knows their whereabouts at all times!”
Parent Lisa Craig admits that as a proud mum she is guilty of posting up images of her children when they achieve something like pupil of the week or a football medal. She confesses, “It’s really more for the parents than the child, but I suppose it’s a way of us parents feeling that we are doing something right – as far too often there are so many people ready to tell you what you are doing wrong.”
Coming to the defence of parents who like to upload a ‘Brag-book’ post or three, (including most of us in Ni4kids HQ) according to Sandra McKeen, sharing is caring! She writes, ‘think of the grandparents. Some don’t get to see their grandchildren too often and can’t wait to see those pics!’ Ann Duncan believes, “It’s up to the parents if they want to do it, I’m sure they know the ins and outs.” And Jen Kearney points out that most parents only post to friends and family on their ‘private’ page. She adds, “Imagine proud parents ‘showing off’ their children. How awful. NOT!”
Leticia Maciel who runs popular parenting blog, The Inside Edit, believes that sharing pictures on social media is a fantastic way of staying in touch and sharing those precious moments with those who matter. She says: “It is a modern reality that we all exist online and eventually so will our kids, although we are quite selective in how we do this. We have a lot of family who live abroad so being able to upload our pictures of our children on Facebook, Instagram or our blog enables us to share our stories with them, making us feel connected in a way we would never have been able to in the past.”
Emma Coffey, social media expert at the Baby to Toddler Show who carried out the research says: “It’s natural for parents to want to show off their bundle of joy when they arrive into the world or when they reach their various milestones; they are the proudest moments for any parent. Social media however, has become more than just a platform for sharing memories. In the absence of having family nearby, it can provide a vital lifeline for mums and dads faced with the ongoing challenges of parenthood. Facebook parenting groups for example can offer answers to questions or concerns you may have and platforms such as Instagram have provided many parents with fantastic support networks that lets them know they aren’t alone.
“However, it’s important to remember your little one’s privacy and that digital footprint you leave on their behalf will be there forever. As an 18-year old heading off to university, or starting their first job, they may not want their new friends seeing them half naked and covered in chickenpox at the age of seven! It’s about finding the right balance for you and your family. Instead you can create private photo albums on your phone, private social media accounts, or there are also websites and apps that allow you to upload and share your little one’s journey privately that only your chosen friends and family can see. It’s so important to be mindful and to get to know your privacy settings.”
When used responsibly, social media is a remarkable platform for users to feel close to distant friends and family members, celebrate milestones in our children’s lifetimes and connect with other parents. Just be aware of exactly what privacy settings you have in place to carefully monitor who can see what you are posting, and do consider that one day your grown-up child might not thank you if they Google themselves and find that embarrassing pic of them dressed as an elf!