Mumspeak #6: Sharenting: Should it stop?

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This month's #Mumspeak is on the much-debated topic of Sharenting: the act of sharing pictures and information of your child/children online or on social media.

In today's world of Facebook and Instagram, it is not uncommon to see pictures of important events, special firsts or just day-to-day life. Or even a few lines on what one's child did or said or ate or didn't eat.

Safety concerns apart, anti-sharenters are also concerned about the child's personal space and privacy. A 6-month-old has no say in the matter, but what happens when she's 6-years-old and attends school? Will she be ok with her life  being an open book online?

The dilemma becomes trickier for us parent bloggers – if we want to personalise our blog so as to gain a more intimate audience, it is essential to reveal our real family life, pictures et al. And why have an Instagram account if we're not going to click pictures of our kids? But then again, Insta increases followers and stats… you see where I'm going?

Personally, I'm not much of a sharenter, especially when it comes to revealing pictures and real names (at the expense of my blog, but it's a personal choice). Here are my views on the subject, as published on the website Ohbeehave.

"I am always a bit skeptical about sharing pictures or too much information about my child on social media, because it's a sad fact but a fact nonetheless that it is a dangerous world out there.
I do post pictures on apps like whatsapp which are not public, but refrain from doing so on Facebook/Twitter. I don't even show my son's face on my blog, though I know people would love to see more pictures of him and our family life (being a parenting blog) – but better safe than sorry!
Regarding it having an impact on them – I guess that depends on child to child. Some might grow up to dislike having had their childhood documented and made public; whereas others might think it to be pretty cool. But I would refrain from posting/ writing about anything that could / would embarrass my son when he's older."

Below, mums and mum bloggers share their views on the matter…

 

 

Lucy from Lucy At Home

As a parenting blogger, it's virtually impossible to avoid "sharenting" because that's what our business is built on, but actually, I don't like it at all. I firmly believe that my kids' lives belong to them and it should be their choice to share that story online, or not. I would hate it if I found out that someone was documenting my life for the whole world to see. Because of this, my blog is totally anonymous (no face photos, different names, etc) so that whatever I share cannot be traced back to my kids. I think I get the best of both worlds with this – the support of others who read my sharenting posts, without compromising my kids' privacy.

Lucy from Me, Being Mummy

The topic of sharenting is something that lingers about awkwardly in the back of my head whilst I write a blog post or edit an insta. It is a scary thought that, once unleashed, that information is there. Creating a virtual footprint. Open to anyone to see, download, copy, tag or whatever. It is a sobering thought. Then comes the possibility that I am going against my kids and their privacy. Will they want me to be sharing our family life? Will the post of them with chocolate round their mouth be an embarrassment when they are approaching teenage years in a decade? Possibly.
But, looking further on, in twenty or thirty years, when they might have become parents themselves, it might be different. They may read my words and look to my pictures as a form of comfort and guidance. Their father is classed as terminally ill; so a record of family life when all was well seems like a must have for me as his partner, let alone them as his sons. And to share it with friends and family who aren't close by is also a plus. Life is short, and fast. Capturing moments of it just seems worth the risk to me. The fear of regret far outweigh anything else and therefore, I shall always be happy to share.

Carly from Mom of Two Little Girls

I don’t share pictures of my children’s faces on my blog, or their names. I feel that my blog is more about my life as a mother than their life as my children. My blog is my therapy and whilst they are the subject of most of my blog posts, that is not their choice. This position is a difficult one to work around, especially as a Mommy Blogger; they often beg me to do ‘unboxing videos’ so that they can be on YouTube too, but when all is said and done they are not old enough to make an informed decision regarding their online digital footprint and so I have to be the one to make that decision for them.

Pen from The Single Swan

I don't share photos of Cygnet on social media.  My blog is anonymous and I don't share images or identifying details of either us on my blog.  That doesn't mean that I think that 'sharenting' is wrong.  I think many people in my generation and my parents' generation in particular struggle to get our heads around how social media has changed the concept of identity and how integral social media is and will be to our children's lives.  We can either shut social media out, or we can embrace and take ownership of it. I know that at some stage I will start sharing pictures of Cygnet on social media.  At some stage he will want to share pictures of himself.  I don't know when that will be, but I do hope that both of us will be able to seize the opportunities that social media provides.

Jaki from JakiJellz

It's only recently that I have really given this a whole lot of thought. At the start of my blog, it didn't seem a big deal but over the last year or so I have started to feel that I want to share fewer photos of my Little Man within my posts. I have made a conscious effort recently to go for the photos that are 'faceless' shots. This way it's not completely impersonal. Although I do find it hard when I have a really lovely photo that I want to share with the world. It's a shame that we have to think about it but we have to think about how our kids might feel in a few years time. I think it's a personal choice though and I would never criticise anyone who has different views to me.

Katie from Living Life Our Way

I don't post pictures of her face or her real name. I also don't share details of her MH issues, personal SEND story or general potentially embarrassing stories because I respect her right to privacy and want her to feel comfortable with the information being put out there for the whole world to see. In short, I feel it is her story to tell, not mine.

Victoria from The Growing Mum

I don't post pictures showing his face on my blog and blog socials. On my personal socials, I only share pictures of him when it's a special event like a birthday. Apart from the kid's privacy issues, I feel strongly about being sensitive to those struggling to have a kids

Becky from Baby Budgeting

I don’t share my children’s health diagnosis or areas of challenging behaviour as I feel this is their personal / private information and they may not want the world to know one day, so I have no right to share.

Laura from Savings 4 Savvy Mums

Depends. On my personal blog I share everything, from them drawing on the walls to tantrums because I feel like it’s important and shows our “real” life. On my money blog I mention them but not as heavily. I am starting to feel like maybe I should stop sharing so much. My eldest has just started school, what happens if her friends find it in a few years time? It’s not an easy decision to make.

Jaymee from The Mum Diaries

I may share a little too much at times, but as my eldest gets older (8) I have started to think twice about what it is I am posting. Also my mother-in-law is on FB and every time I post she tells hubby's dad and we get constant messages.

What are your views on 'Sharenting'? How much is too much? Where do you draw the line, if at all? I'd love to discuss this further… do drop a line or two in the comments. 

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20 Responses

  1. Emma T

    It's definitely a hard one as they get older. I started my blog as a record journal for us, not realising that parenting blogs were a thing and that it would then get read by thousands of people. I thought it was a record for me and my family to read. But I don't mention N's name (although it could be found out via my name if people were friends with me on personal social media and someone was really searching).

    I'm proud of my blog, and it will provide N with lots to look back on. I thought when he started school I'd have to move more lifestyle but so far it's ok. I think next year it'll start to become more general comments unfortunately because he doesn't always like having his photo taken. He's less worried about his photos being on the blog, but I shared one on my Facebook profile of his having chopped his own hair and someone at school had seen it via him mum I'm friends with. N wasn't happy I'd posted it so I will have to get his ok for photos now.

    It's sad because we'll have no real way to document everything unless I do something privately, but we have to listen to them as they get to more sensitive ages. Hopefully he'll still be ok with faceless shots.

    • Nicole

      True. Ultimately it is their personal space and their lives… and not all of them would be happy with their lives on public display. Thanks for commenting:)

  2. Paola

    I love that you wrote about it because I have a post *exactly* on my point of view going live in a week.
    I have also the perspective of an IT professional and how all this data may be used. Not to mention I heard several accounts of stolen pictures. Common sense is not so common after all… and I'd rather not take any risk.
    It puts limitation on my blogging, for instance when I collaborate with companies… but still for now I don't feel comfortable sharing my kids' pictures.
    #ThursdayTeam

    • Nicole

      Yes I'm on the same page. Being a mummy blogger, brands love it when you open up and share every aspect of your family life online, but 'stranger danger' and online pictures being used by perverts is more important to me than my blog. Individual decisions, but they should be informed decisions. That, and then of course, protecting your child's privacy…
      Thanks for your lovely comment and share x

  3. MMT

    I love your choices and justifications as it seems you and I are on the same page! I too feel way too uncomfortable putting my children in the public eye, so have made a choice from the beginning to refrain from revealing faces, names, location etc. It's hard and I have been tempted, but this is such a fundamental part of my strategy that it's imperative I stick to it. That said I do like to be open about all aspects of motherhood – and wonder if one day the girls will be unhappy about what I've shared! Or maybe they'll think it's cool? Either way I've accepted I'll never make it as a huge blogger, but I'll live with that 😉
    Thanks so much for linking to #coolmumclub

    • Nicole

      Thanks for that lovely comment Sarah… my sentiments exactly! It is often very tempting to post that adorable pic, but their priorities and safety comes before blogging priorities. So be it.

  4. Mummy2twindividuals

    I feel torn. Lots of these comments are from a position of fear and I really don’t want to live my life in fear and regret documenting as I am. It’s tough to balance the risk but for now I’ll continue to share. #blogstravaganza

    • Nicole

      Yes it is a tight rope. I too would love to share more, but I succumbed to the fear. But as long as it is an informed choice and one knows what to expect, each to his own.

  5. The Tale of Mummyhood

    It's so interesting to read other's opinions on this. I don't think there's a clear cut answer to be honest and I think it's a lot to do with personal preference. Thanks so much for sharing with #Blogstravaganza xx

    • Nicole

      Exactly Zoe… each to his own. But it is interesting to read so many perspectives, isn't it?

    • Nicole

      True, we can only guess whether our kids will approve of the sharing or not when older, but we can never know for sure.

  6. Kirsty

    This is such a brilliant talking point especially amongst us parent bloggers. I worry about sharing too much sometimes so I have come up with my own measure of sharing morals. Basically if I would be embarrassed for strangers to know something about me then I don't share it. No bath shots, no vulnerable pictures etc. Much of this fuelled my push away from 100% parenting blog and more varied and about my own interests as well as my family. I will always share pictures of my children because I feel social media is changing the future in that respect and I think embracing it is a good thing to understand the younger generations, but I will only share something I myself would be comfortable with now I am an adult.
    Loved reading this. Thank you for linking it to #ThursdayTeam

    • Nicole

      That's a nice balance you've created Kirsty. As long as one is informed of the pros and cons, each can decide where to draw the line for him or herself. Thanks for the lovely comment.

  7. Crummy Mummy

    I draw the line at anything they might be embarrassed about later on but as someone already mentioned, my blog is more about me as a mum than my kids #coolmumclub

    • Nicole

      Lovely. I guess we all try and find our own comfort zone in this space and work within those parameters.

  8. Sarah

    It's definitely a touchy subject! Personally I don't mind sharing baby pics (not in excess) for the pure fact that I have a lot of family all over the country who I rarely see. They all follow our Mummykind blog as well as my personal blog where I write letters to my daughter, and so sharing pictures and funny memories are all part of that! I never give specifics though – especially not with location or anything else that is identifiable. I'm also super careful about not posting pics of baby in the bath/potty pics online – those are sent privately to family or kept in the albums at home!

    • Nicole

      I think you've found the perfect balance Sarah… in the end, each to his own, but you seem to have it well worked out:)

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