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“Sharenting” – Risk factors when overexposing children to Social Media

SHARENTING – DOES IT HAPPEN IN SOUTH AFRICA?

Many parents currently (over) share pictures and videos of their children online without interrogating what the impact of this could be on a child. What are the risks associated with the posts published on social media and the phenomenon known as Sharenting? Sharenting occurs when parents (over) share content about their children on social media. A hairy topic is how much content parents SHOULD be sharing about their precious little ones on social media given issues related to both security and anonymity as well as the potential psychological impact this over exposure could have on a child.

It is my observation that the trend to share more and limit less (where children are concerned) seems to be becoming more prevalent in South Africa with many parents – both celebs and non-celebs. It is a widely accepted fact that using children as content subject matter is a sure way to get high engagement on posts (I mean, who doesn’t love a cute video or picture of a child doing something entertaining or funny online?) but parents need to be acutely aware of some of the risks this could present in the short and long term.

There are healthy ways that parents can share information about their children on social media and increasingly in today’s era, many families find themselves scattered across the globe. This means social media can offer an effective way to keep families updated on activities across continents in general but also on the developments of the children in a family more specifically.

But as you continue to press “Share” consider the following risk factors:

SECURITY RISK FACTORS:

“Digital kidnapping” – or identity theft, can occur where children’s photos and details are used by others who promote your child as being their own.
Predator Sites – there is also the scary reality that your content could end up with online predators or on an illegal paedophilic website. According to a study done by the Australian Government’s eSafety Commission 50% of images shared on paedophile sites originate from social media sites. Whilst there is no real indication of what these figures look like in SA at present, if this figure is indicative in any shape or form, it is grave cause for concern.

PSYCHOLOGICAL RISK FACTORS:

Self Esteem due to bullying and hurt: Social media can take a real knock at one’s self esteem because people have (or think they have) carte blanche about what they say/post about others and can therefore be very unforgiving and sometimes downright cruel. Hazing on social media can be devastating on adults and is more severe when experienced by a child. When you child receives any negative feedback related to a post on social media this may have a negative impact on their self esteem.

Before you post, ask yourself could this compromise your child later on in life (even professionally)? Does the post position your child as smart, well-behaved, kind and successful. If not, do you want to share this with the rest of the world? (Parental Sharing on the Internet – Child Privacy in the Age of Social Media (2017) – Steinberg, S & Bahareh, K) http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapediatrics/article

Identity Development: Psychologists also raise concern with cases where parents have created a thriving online persona for a child because the child may not be able to form an identity that is separate to the online persona which has been crafted which may have negative psychological impact. What (over) Sharenting unintentionally does is is deny the child the space to develop and craft their own persona in a fashion that is more organic and divorced from parental scripting as it were.

Resentment in Adulthood – Revealing embarrassing or private information about your child could also lead to self esteem issues with your child. Psychologists fear that this could lead to resentment towards parents in the child’s adulthood.

PRIVACY ISSUES FOR THE CHILD:

The United Nations Conventions on the Rights of the Child – Under the Child’s Right to Privacy – Article 16 state]]s that: –
– No child shall be subjected to the arbitrary or unlawful interference with his/her family, home or correspondence, nor to unlawful attacks on his/her honour or reputation”

– Should children have the right to to shape their own social identities when they are of age?
– Have privacy laws looked into Sharenting in the digital age in SA and protection that children may need in respect of such?

SOURCES -:
Parental Sharing on the Internet – Child Privacy in the Age of Social Media (2017) – Steinberg, S & Bahareh, K http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapediatrics/article

Healthy Children – Healthy https://www.healthychildren.org/…/Sharenting-5-Questions-to-Ask-Before-You-Post.

Image – https://stocksnap.io/

You Tube Video – http//www.youtube.com/watch?=yC1Xr-MUNCc

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