For the past several years, there has been a constant refrain regarding online sharing with my daughters: "Once you put it out there, it's out there." As they have matured, we have loosened the reins on them as they have shown us they are thinking before posting anything potentially harmful, hurtful, compromising, or embarrassing to themselves or others.
Is this a lesson more parents need to learn?
Yes, "sharenting" is a thing, and many parents do it.
It occurs when parents share details about their children's lives online, and there are some benefits to "sharenting." Some say they discuss parenting on social media to feel less alone and others post about their family to stay connected with their loved ones.
However, there are potential harms that come with "sharenting" too, that many parents might not recognize, according to new research..Posting about your children online could impact them psychosocially and even result in issues with identity theft or online predators, explained Keith, who is also a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics
"There's been a dearth of discussion on this topic by both legal scholars, children's rights advocates, pediatricians and by the media, and this dearth for discussion leaves parents with an insufficient amount of material to consider before they press share on their digital devices," said Steinberg, who also serves as an associate director of the University of Florida Levin College of Law's Center on Children and Families.
Steinberg and Keith recommend best practice guidelines for parents to consider when "sharenting" -- such as, considering how a photo might affect their children if a bully finds it and uses it against them, or whether a photo could have a negative effect if their child is running for political office as an adult and it resurfaces.
"A big part of my research really focuses on a child's privacy and a child being able to enter adulthood free to create their own digital footprint, or at least being able to feel comfortable with the digital footprint that's been left in their childhood wake," Steinberg said.7 best practice guidelines for "sharenting"
If parents choose to post photos or blog about their children online, researchers offer these dos and don'ts:
- Do familiarize yourself with the privacy policies of the sites with which you share.
- Do set up a notification to alert whenever your child's name appears in a Google search result.
- Do share anonymously, and consider not sharing publicly, if you choose to post about your child's behavior struggles.
- Don't, or use caution, when sharing your child's actual location.
- Do give your child veto power over online disclosures, including images, quotes, accomplishments and challenges.
- Don't post pictures that show your child in any state of undress.
- Do consider the effect sharing can have on your child's current and future sense of self and well-being