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What is "sharenting" and why should you think twice before sharing the lives of your children in social networks

How much do you share on the internet about the lives of your children? And to what extent do you want to see information about the lives of the children of others in social networks?

"Sharenting" - an Anglicism that comes from sharing and parenting - consists of documenting the first smiles, words, steps ... and each of the anecdotes of the little ones on Facebook, Instagram and other networks social.

And it has become such a common practice that the British dictionary Collins included it in its pages in 2016. Since then, the phenomenon has not stopped growing.

So far, there has been no other generation of children with such a public childhood. And it is likely that, when they grow up, many do not agree with it.

To what extent is the "sharenting" harmful?


3 categories
It could be said that there are three categories of parents in social networks:

The proud
The protectors
The irritated
The first are those who would love to have their Facebook contacts know everything about their children. And they are responsible for doing so by publishing each photo and anecdote through the social network.

Savannah Morrison, from Glasgow, Scotland, is one of them.

"I love posting photos of my little one on Facebook and Instagram, I love that my friends and family comment on them or click on 'Like'," he tells the BBC.

"I also enjoy commenting and doing like in the photos of the children of my friends and family, and it seems incredible that I can feel part of their lives being thousands of kilometers away."

"In my opinion, as long as the photos are not indecent and the presence of the child can be justified (if asked when it grows) there is no problem," he adds.

What generates debate is that, for many, the mere fact of publishing a photo without the minor's permission is already indecent.

They are the protectors of privacy, no less proud of their children but much more cautious when it comes to publishing images in which minors appear.

"I try my best not to put any pictures of my son on Facebook," says brunics artist Rosie McDonald.

"He is a human being and has the same right to privacy as anyone else, being so small, his ability to understand what that means is much less than that of an adult."

Rosie believes that it is "her job as a mother to ensure that her son's rights are recognized and respected."

And on the other hand, there are many people are irritated and fed up with the "sharenting".

Its Facebook walls are full of photos of the children of their friends and family. And they have enough with that.

"I hate when parents post things like birthday messages when their children are not yet old enough to read it," Shaun Bacon told the BBC.

"Do not tell me if it's your birthday or how proud they are of him or her, tell them to your face, that they live in the same house, I do not need to see that," he concludes.

Ofcom, the communications regulator of the United Kingdom, developed a study in 2017 in which it suggests that publishing family photos and videos on social networks has become a "divisive problem".

"Parents are very divided over whether or not it is sensible to share photos of their children online," Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom's consumer director, told the BBC.

"The good news is that of those who do, 80% are sure to restrict who can see those images ... just some friends and family, for example," explains Lindsey Fussell.

The fingerprint
However, more than half of the people interviewed by Ofcom stated that they think that their children will be happy to share their photos on the web, and only 15% worry that they will not think the same in a few years.

The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) in the UK warns that "every time a photo or video is published, a fingerprint is created of the child who can follow it in his adult life. "

"It is always important to ask the child for permission before publishing the photos," a spokeswoman for the agency told the BBC.

"If it's about very young children, think about whether they would like you to publish it or if it would embarrass them, if you're not sure, it's better if you do not."


Beyond ethical dilemmas, the information that parents share in social networks about their children may involve security risks.

According to the financial services company Barclays, "sharenting" is a gateway for Internet fraud.

The bank says that many parents are compromising the future financial security of their children (and their own) by sharing unregistered data from minors in the network.

In fact, the company estimates that by 2030 the "sharenting" could cost more than US $ 870 million in online fraud - being responsible for two thirds of identity theft in the next decade - and that committing scams on the Internet "was never so easy".

It also points out that there are parents who are carried away by "a false sense of security" and who do not realize that their children become "targets for fraud" thanks to the information they share about them and that remains in the network.

"Another decade of parents sharing too much information on the Internet will produce 7.4 million cases a year of identity theft by 2030," says the company.

That information, they warn, can be used to hack passwords or to impersonate their identity.