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“Sharenting”: balancing parental sharing and child Privacy

Photo by Pixabay: from pexel

In today’s digital age, parents often grapple with whether to share their children’s lives on social media, a phenomenon commonly referred to as “sharenting.” While sharing moments of childhood may seem harmless and even endearing, it raises critical questions about the long-term implications for the privacy and autonomy of the children involved

The viral YouTube video, garnering over 2 million views, sparks a pertinent debate surrounding children’s comfort levels with parental oversharing on social media platforms. While some individuals express acceptance of such sharing, emphasizing the importance of prior consent, others vehemently oppose being thrust into the limelight without their express permission. This discourse underscores the nuanced perspectives surrounding parental social media sharing ethics and highlights the divergent opinions on the matter within society.

The rise of sharenting has prompted a growing debate among parents, educators, policymakers, and child advocates. Some argue for the implementation of stricter regulations or guidelines to govern parental sharing on social media platforms, emphasizing the need to prioritize children’s privacy rights and well-being. For example, the Children’s Commissioner for England has called for a “right to be forgotten” law, allowing children to request the removal of online content shared by their parents once they reach a certain age.

Others advocate for greater parental awareness and responsibility when it comes to sharenting. They encourage parents to exercise caution and discretion when sharing content about their children online, considering the potential long-term consequences and respecting their children’s autonomy. Parenting bloggers and influencers have emerged as influential voices in promoting mindful sharenting practices, advocating for consent-based approaches and selective sharing of content that preserves children’s dignity and privacy.

Photo by Ron Lach: from Pexel

Sharenting, the act of parents sharing photos, videos, and anecdotes about their children online, has become increasingly prevalent with the rise of social media platforms. According to a study published in the journal Pediatrics, an estimated 92% of children in the United States have an online presence by the time they are 2 years old, with parents being the primary contributors to this digital footprint.

A TikTok video posted by @wren.eleanort featuring her and her daughter consuming ice has sparked varied reactions from viewers. While the baby’s initial response appeared fearful, some viewers expressed concern over the appropriateness of the post, suggesting that it could potentially cause emotional harm to the child. Angelika commented, criticizing the mother’s actions, stating, “Disgusting. She’s scared. You shouldn’t be a mother.” Others, like Kylie (Taylor’s version), voiced worry for the child’s well-being, urging the poster to reconsider sharing such content publicly, stating, “Look at the baby, she is terrified. Please stop posting until it’s too late. Prayers sent your way.” Some viewers expressed apprehension about the long-term effects on the child’s comfort in public settings, fearing that such experiences might contribute to future social anxieties.

@wren.eleanort

lol #frozenhoney do Wren & Jacquelyn

♬ original sound – Wren & Jacquelyn

Proponents of sharenting argue that it allows parents to connect with family and friends, share parenting experiences, and document precious moments of their children’s lives. Social media platforms serve as virtual scrapbooks, enabling parents to create a digital archive of memories that can be cherished for the future. Moreover, sharenting can foster a sense of community among parents, providing support and validation in the often challenging journey of raising children.

However, critics of sharenting raise valid concerns about the potential risks associated with exposing children’s lives on the internet. One of the most significant concerns is the issue of consent and privacy. Children, especially infants and toddlers, cannot provide informed consent to share their images and personal information online. As they grow older, these digital footprints created by their parents may affect their autonomy and reputation, as well as expose them to privacy breaches, identity theft, and online exploitation.

Furthermore, sharenting blurs the boundaries between the public and private spheres of children’s lives, potentially exposing them to scrutiny and judgment from a global audience. What may seem innocuous to parents, such as potty training or temper tantrums, could become a source of embarrassment or harassment for children as they navigate adolescence and adulthood.

In France, the issue of children’s rights in the digital sphere has been addressed through legal avenues, further highlighting the complexities of sharenting. In 2018, France enacted a landmark law known as the “Right to Respect for the Image of the Child,” which grants children the right to take legal action against their parents for posting unauthorized photos or videos of them on social media.

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto: from pixabay

Under this law, parents can face fines of up to €45,000 or even imprisonment for privacy violations if they are found to have shared images of their children without consent. This legislation underscores the importance of respecting children’s autonomy and privacy in the digital age, acknowledging that they have a right to control their image and online presence.

Sharenting presents a complex ethical dilemma with far-reaching implications for children’s privacy, autonomy, and well-being. While social media offers unprecedented opportunities for parents to connect and share parenting experiences, it also raises important questions about the boundaries of parental discretion and children’s rights to control their digital identities. As society grapples with the challenges of navigating the digital age, parents, policymakers, and technology companies need to work together to establish ethical guidelines and best practices that prioritize the interests and rights of children in the online realm.

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