With so many of us living far away from family and friends, social media has become the go-to method of sharing photographs and video footage of our children’s milestone moments and family celebrations.

But where does the ease of sharing end and neglecting our children’s privacy begin?

A 2016 study found that on average, parents post nearly 1,500 photos of their child online by a child’s fifth birthday. Posting this number of photographs online can compromise a person’s privacy before they are old enough to consent to their image being shared, many experts argue.

‘Sharenting,’ as a term combining sharing and parenting, came into circulation around 2013 when following a person’s life online via social media had become normal. Baby photos, first tastes of food, first birthdays and the first day of school are examples of images regularly shared by parents online. Parents post images to Facebook groups in search of support on topics such as breastfeeding and child development, while sharing images alongside certain hashtags can place images of your child into public searches on social media platforms such as Instagram.

We’ve researched opinion and created a list of questions you could consider asking yourself before deciding to share images online:

  • Are you writing your child’s life story for them before they have the chance to create and own it for themselves?
  • Could your sharing damage their online reputation and impact their future social or career prospects?
  • Could you limit the number of people who see your family photographs? Do so by making your profile private and adjusting your photo sharing settings to share with a small circle of close friends and family only
  • How will the digital footprint you are creating for your child affect the way other people see them?
  • Could an innocent picture fall into the hands of a criminal with criminal motives?
  • Has your older child expressed concerns about potential future technology (facial recognition algorithms) and the possibility of being traced from your shared photographs?
  • Is it better to share family photographs via a private WhatsApp group chat than via a social media network?
    A study conducted by Nominet in the UK illustrates the extent of sharenting which can be explored, here – https://www.nominet.uk/parents-oversharing-family-photos-online-lack-basic-privacy-know/

    Sharing tips for parents are offered by the organisation Internet Matters, here – https://www.internetmatters.org/resources/sharenting-tips-for-parents/