Sharenting

Sharenting – the act of parents who share photos online with friends and family.

Aviana made her internet profile debut as a 5 day old embryo. We were proud to announce to the world on Facebook, Instagram and my blog (www.thegreatpuddingclubhunt.com) that our third cycle of IVF was heading in a positive direction and we successfully transferred two embryos, one being Aviana. I thought carefully about posting ultrasound pictures on Facebook knowing how hard it is to see these types of pictures when dealing with infertility, but I posted a few of Aviana on my blog and Instagram. Aviana’s online photo presence grew to the obligatory birth announcement on Facebook a few days after she was born. And then we decided that we would not be posting more photos of her on Facebook or Instagram, unless she was in a photo with other adults.

Why?

1. Because photos of cute children can end up being used commercially without the consent of the guardian.

It is perfectly possible that despite your best efforts to lock down your privacy settings on Facebook that one of your unknowing friends or family doesn’t have equal levels of privacy and shares one of your photos. Then it’s out of your control.

2. Because our children have a right to privacy.

I’m not saying that parents who share photos on Facebook or Instagram are maliciously sharing photos and destroying their child’s right to privacy…but rather, it’s hard to know exactly what the long term effects might be to our children’s privacy in the future. For me, I have acquaintances on my Facebook, I’m friends with almost 600 people, of which many are whom I have met occasionally but don’t know overly well. 

3. Because of Pedophiles. 

I know of Parenting bloggers who will post pictures of their children naked in the bath or on the potty. These types of images are known to be collected by pedophiles from these sites.

4. Because of the meme culture. 

Chris took an amazing picture of Aviana looking like Dr Evil from Austin Powers. She had her little pinky finger to her mouth, and with her baldish head made a wonderful impersonation. So Chris created a picture comparing Aviana to Dr Evil. This is the exact type of picture that gets shared as a meme and suddenly it is shared like wildfire and all control is lost. In the end we only shared this photo with a couple of close friends by private messenger.

5. Because we want Aviana to form her own identity in the future.

We don’t know what the impact of sharenting is on children in the longer term. Giving her that freedom and choice for the future is what we hope to achieve.

I’m not perfect when it comes to protecting Avian’s privacy online. Firstly, I’m writing about her on this blog. I’ve already written about her health issues and behaviours. Could this information be used against her in the future? 

We are using 23 Snaps to share photos of Aviana with my closest friends and family. It is a site that was designed specifically by parents to protect the privacy of their own children online. The data on 23 snaps is stored on Amazon S3 servers. Amazon take privacy very seriously – even the US federal government use their servers for sensitive information. But does that mean in the future this data will still be secure?

I personally believe our lives are better by sharing on the internet. My blogs are examples of that belief. Also I don’t know how I would keep up with good friends and family without Facebook, Instagram, 23snaps and other social media apps. Sharing is good. But for me it is under the right conditions, and that is something I judge on a daily basis. I wish it was easier and that I could freely share without having to worry about the consequences. 

As parents we make choices on behalf of our children every day until they are old enough and responsible enough to make their own. Just as we choose their clothes, school, what they eat and sometimes even their friends we have to make a choice for them about their online profiles. Parenting is all about choices and many of which there is no one right way. Sharenting is also a choice and we decided not to share pictures of just her on Facebook. We will decide what to or not write about her on this blog. Sometimes we will get it right and sometimes we will get it wrong. But that’s being a parent, and that’s what sharenting is all about, choices of the parent.