Like most things to do with the digital world, there is a catchy portmanteau (blend of words) to describe when parents share stuff online about their kids:
Share + Parenting = Sharenting.
Now, in the interests of full disclosure, I confess sharenting is one of my most favourite hobbies. It’s right up there with drinking coffee and long walks on the beach.
Photos of my kids regularly feature in my Instagram and Facebook posts. I post funny anecdotes about the trials and tribulations of family life and, of course, write about them at length.
I do this for a number of reasons – to share with family and friends, to connect with other parents in the trenches and to keep a digital record.
The good news for me is that I am far from alone.
The statistics on sharenting are rather staggering. A study in 2010 showed that around 80% of children under the age of 2 have some sort of digital footprint. Considering the growth of social media in the last 8 years, I’d wager that has increased.
Research also shows that mothers are more inclined to sharenting than fathers. While critics slam the practice as digital narcissim or bragging, there is a theory that sharenting is more than that.
Studies on why mothers share online found that it is an evolution of our natural tendency to express parental pride and love.
Mother of 3, Juliana is a self-confessed sharent, particularly when it comes to photos the equestrian achievements of her 2 young sons.
“My Facebook page is my home and I like to have my life on it reminding me of the positive,” explains Juliana. “There is plenty of not so good stuff I don’t share!”
When asked if she ever worries people will find her sharing boring or monotonous her reply is simple: “If you don’t like, don’t look!”
She recently posted on her Facebook page: “I love photos and sharing them on social media … beats getting photos printed and putting into a photo album that sits in the bottom cupboard.”
Interestingly, many of her friends commented in agreement, saying they do similar and loved seeing pictures of other people’s children too.
Personally, I don’t just share my child’s achievements, but also the more gritty and real aspects of parenting. These are often appreciated by my fellow parents who can often relate to the relentless, exhausting, laugh-or-cry nature of life with little people. My ‘digital village’ is a great source parenting advice and emotional support.
Professor Sarah Schoppe-Sullivan who did research into new mothers’ internet sharing practices found that women are more likely to share online as they navigate the unchartered territory of motherhood.
“This is an evolving way of representing your identity and your family and what’s important to you,” says Professor Sarah Schoppe-Sullivan.
Obviously, there is a darker side of sharenting, including many concerns about sharing of children’s images online for privacy and safety issues.
It is important to think about the implications of leaving a digital footprint for your kids. The Australian eSafety Commissioner has some tips and information to help inform your sharenting activities.
So tell me, are you a fellow sharent? What do you love (or hate) about it?