Should Parents be Documenting their Children’s Lives on Social Media?
- Nearly three quarters (71%) of people think parents post too much information about their children on social media
- 37% of parents haven’t thought about how their children will feel about having their photos shared on social media when they get older
- 82% of parents post to connect with friends and family they don’t see often enough
Social media is a growing force across the world and it can be used as a helpful tool for people to share amazing memories, fantastic experiences and emotional moments with their friends and family who they are not able to see face-to-face. It can also provide parents with essential support networks with like-minded peers experiencing the same challenges of parenthood. However, is there such a thing as over-sharing?
New research by the Baby to Toddler Show which launches this weekend for the first time, has found that 71% of people believe that parents post too much information about their children on social media with nearly half (45%) believing that parents are just “showing off”. It may not come as a surprise that some people find parents annoying because recent research by, Nominet, found that the average parent in the UK with a social media account will have posted a whopping 1,498 photos of their child online by their fifth birthday![i] Similarly, the term ‘sharenting’ – the habitual use of social media to share news and images of one’s children, has recently been added to the Collins English Dictionary, proving this could be more than a yearly trend.
However, parents who post disagree they do too much and say the most common reason (82%) for sharing is to connect with friends and family members they don’t see often, followed by nearly half (49%) saying they want to record their child’s key milestones and memories.
But what about how the children feel? Over a third (37%) of parents haven’t even considered how their kids will feel when they’re older, knowing that photos of them growing up are all over the internet. Of those that had considered their children’s feelings, just over a third (36%) believed they would grow up and treasure the memories and just 7% felt their children would be embarrassed.
[i] Nominet Research – 5th September 2016 – Nominet : Parents Over Sharing Family Photos Online
Emma Coffey, social media expert at the Baby to Toddler Show says: “It’s natural for parents to want to show off their bundle of joy when they arrive into the world or when they reach their various milestones; they are the proudest moments for any parent. Social media however, has become more than just a platform for sharing memories. In the absence of having family nearby, it can provide a vital lifeline for mums and dads faced with the ongoing challenges of parenthood. Facebook parenting groups for example can offer answers to questions or concerns you may have and platforms such as Instagram have provided many parents with fantastic support networks that lets them know they aren’t alone.
“However, it’s important to remember your little one’s privacy and that digital footprint you leave on their behalf will be there forever. As an 18 year old heading off to university or starting their first job, they may not want their new friends seeing them half naked and covered in chicken pox at the age of seven! It’s about finding the right balance for you and your family. Instead you can create private photo albums on your phone, private social media accounts or there are also websites and apps that allow you to upload and share your little one’s journey privately that only your chosen friends and family can see. It’s so important to be mindful and to get to know your privacy settings.”
Often people worry about young children publishing too much personal information online and not being aware of the risks involved, but this research also puts parents into the spotlight. Over a third (35%) of parents said they were aware of the risks of the internet but continued to post pictures and information purely because everyone else does. However, worryingly one in 10 (10%) admitted they weren’t aware of the risks at all.
Reassuringly over two thirds (70%) of parents knew exactly what privacy settings they had in place on social media and carefully monitored who could see what they were posting.
Leticia Maciel who runs popular parenting blog, The Inside Edit, believes that sharing pictures on social media is a fantastic way of staying in touch and sharing those precious moments with those who matter. She says: “It is a modern reality that we all exist online and eventually so will our kids although we are quite selective in how we do this. We have a lot of family that live abroad so being able to upload our pictures of our children on Facebook, Instagram or our blog enables us to share our stories with them, making us feel connected in a way we would never have been able to in the past.”
When used responsibly, social media is a remarkable platform for users to feel close to distant friends and family members, celebrate milestones in their children’s lifetimes and connect with other parents in the local area. Here, founder of Bumpkins Photography and exhibitor at Baby to Toddler, Amit Amin, gives his top tips on how best to capture those special moments:
- Your phone will become your weapon of choice for documenting your little one. This is great because you always it have on you and you can grab those key and sometimes unpredictable memories.
- Technology is moving so fast that you are able to make some great slideshows from your phone that you can share instantly.
- Get to know your baby’s happy times – then you can capture those smiles a lot easier!
- Phones are fantastic because you can easily set it to save to the cloud and never lose the pictures you’ve taken. Shooting on an SLR camera, on the other hand, means that you always have to have your kit ready, and then remember to back up the photos which many parents forget to do.
- If you do want a professional studio shoot, work with the experts. Aged 6 to 7 months and above is the perfect age!
*This research was undertaken in July and August 2016 and was based on answers from 1,292 respondents.