I recently read an article in the Education Review (Issue 7, 2016) by Loren Smith about the behaviour labelled ‘Sharenting’. It made me reflect on the habits of adults who have only good intentions about what they share online.
Sharenting is when parents or caregivers post pictures of their children on social media. This once carefree practice can be compared to sharing the family album with strangers. Due to our online fixations and child abuse fears, privacy concerns have surfaced. In her article, Smith argues that many of us are guilty of this phenomenon.
Facebook, Instragram and Snapchat are sometimes accessed where, not only photos can be manipulated, but also identities being stolen by online predators. Smith (Education Review, 2016) reveals that "parents enjoy posting images of their children on social media but doing so responsibly requires some consideration of safety and privacy". Messages and photos on social media often contain names of children, dates of birth, school they attend even the name of the family pet. Could this information be used to answer your bank security questions?
Teenagers can be particularly sensitive of photos that may have been posted of them when they were toddlers. They can think of social media as their ‘brand’ and are embarrassed of the images that ‘proud’ parents posted of them when they were growing up.
Stacey Steinberg, law professor at the University of Florida, cites research that supports this view: "Children who grow up with a sense of privacy, coupled with supportive and less controlling parents, fare better in life”. Furthermore, Steinberg continues: “Studies report these children have a greater sense of overall wellbeing and report greater life satisfaction,“ (Smith, Education Review, 2016).
It is difficult to escape technology in 21st century life. Our children are growing up in a globalised world. People from all walks of life connect through digital mediums. The danger is that we do not always know who we are connecting with or viewing our online life. As parents, we have the responsibility to keep our children safe from untrustworthy people. Furthermore, we also have the responsibility to think about our children’s future and how they will feel about content published of them as children.
Always check the privacy settings, but most importantly: Think before you post!
Andrew Thompson, Assistant Head of Junior School – Dee Why Campus
Ref: Smith, L - (2016) Pride and Precautions, Education Review, (7) 32