Mama reports on the trends affecting parents
What do you think about posting photos of your children online? While some parents are happy to upload daily pics of their little ones on social media sites such as Instagram and Facebook, others are much less keen to share snapshots of their family.
Indeed the subject appears to have divided the nation according to a recent report from Ofcom, the UK’s communication watchdog. Just over half of parents – 56% – said they completely avoided ‘sharenting’ – the term coined to describe the current trend for sharing images of your offspring online. Most gave the reason that they wanted to protect their children’s privacy.
However one in five asked said they posted such images at least once a month. And while some supporters of sharenting will only post a single, occasional holiday or birthday party shot of their son or daughter, others will blog extensively about every element of their child’s life along with images to illustrate it.
Indeed, Ofcom suggested that posting family videos and photos to social media had become a “Marmite issue” – you either love it or hate it. “Parents are really divided about whether it’s sensible to share photos of their children online,” says Ofcom’s consumer group director Lindsey Fussell. “Of those who do share, over 80% feel very confident about restricting who can see those photos, to friends and family, for example,” she continues.
Many of those who do ‘sharent’ are members of the media savvy generation who have grown up cataloguing their lives on the likes of Facebook and Twitter and therefore, when they have kids, see posting about life as parents as the natural next step.
Indeed research by AVG, an internet security firm, claims that more than a third of British children have had images of themselves uploaded to social media by their parents and that the average infant now acquires a digital footprint before their first tooth.
In fact these youngsters may even be traced all the way back to the womb due the popularity of posting ultrasound images to announce a pregnancy.
“The problem with digital footprints,” says Tony Anscombe of the internet security firm AVG, “is that it’s difficult for an individual to control that information once it’s out there. When it comes to our children, we’re making the decision to put things out on their behalf, and what seems appropriate now may not be appropriate in ten years’ time.”
In the Ofcom report 87% of those who do abstain from sharenting said their offspring’s lives should remain private, and 38% said their children would not want them to upload the material. Many worry that in time to come – specifically when they hit the awkward teenage years – their kids might be embarrassed by photos of themselves dressed up in silly costumes or covered in baby food.
But 52% of the sharers said their children were happy for photos and videos of themselves to be online, and only 15% had concerns about what their children might think when they grew up.
Often it’s the context in which sharenting takes place that can cause division. For some posting on social media is merely a way to show off their child’s latest achievement and can be perceived as a bit smug, while others, such as the many parenting blogs, prefer to present a realistic, honest and often funny picture of life with small children. A sizable online community has grown around ‘sharenting’ with many mums and dad enjoying bonding over their experience of parenthood.
Whatever your view on the subject, ‘sharenting’ is clearly here to stay and something that many people feel strongly about on both sides of the fence, as this report clearly illustrates.
Mama chatted to mummy blogger Jo Wimble-Groves, otherwise know as the ‘Guilty Mother’, to get her thoughts on ‘sharenting’.
I see both sides of the debate on sharing photos online. The majority of the photos I choose to share are of myself or places I travel. However, I am a parenting blogger and as such, I do share some carefully selected photos of my children online because it was difficult, impossible even, to be ‘Guilty Mother’ but not share my kids.
I’m proud to share some photos of my children. They are probably the achievement in my life that I am most proud of. But I don’t feel the need to share every moment. I try and resist uploading first day at school photos and school reports, even when it’s sometimes tempting to do so.
The blog was created to share a balanced view on “mum guilt” and how I could leverage my twenty years business experience to help more mothers get flexible working or find something that works around them and their family – balance. I needed to open a little of my soul to connect with my readers – and it worked. I shared stories, good, bad and funny on my parenting blog and 40,000 people across my social media enjoy it.
Social media has enabled people like me, a successful entrepreneur and parenting blogger, to have a voice and use it to share a positive message on social media. Not everyone agrees with what I do and that’s fine. If they don’t like the blog, they don’t have to read it. When I post, the positive comments always out weigh the negative.
I am careful with what I post and I don’t share embarrassing photos of my kids that they will hate me for when they are older, nor do I post photos deemed as inappropriate.
Social media has made us more connected, especially for those with family abroad for example. However, it’s always important to remind ourselves that we don’t always have to capture every moment but also try to remember to just be in the moment – and enjoy it.
I am by no means a perfect mother, but if I do share a few photos online, then yes, I am definitely ‘guilty’ of that.
Check out Jo’s blog at www.guiltymother.co.uk or follow her on instagram @guiltymother