Sharenting: The Risk of Oversharing Your Kid’s Privacy on Social Media

Sharenting: The Risk of Oversharing Your Kid’s Privacy on Social Media

Parents’ posts of their kids create a digital history that will follow them for the rest of their lives.

Do your post about your kids on social media? A study by security company AVG found that 92% of children in the US have an online presence by the time they are two years old. Some parents can’t help but post about their babies and what they do as they grow up. But could those seemingly harmless birth announcements and bathtime photos cause problems for your children as they become adults? The answer is yes.

Before a little one has even entered the world, their presence is shared across the web: A grainy black and white picture announcing the bundle of joy’s imminent arrival. But in an age where information is permanent and privacy valued, is it fair to give your little one a digital footprint before they are even born?

Stacey Steinberg, supervising attorney for the Gator Team Child Juvenile Law Clinic alongside the University of Florida Levin College of Law, has been studying the issue of “sharenting” for years. This practice consists of parents frequently using social media to share pictures and details about their children’s lives.

According to Steinberg, it’s vital to consider your children’s feelings before posting content about them. As she told First Coast News, “I think that my research really shows that the number one thing that parents need to consider is how their kids will feel about the information being shared. On the other hand, I’m concerned about how the information could be used down the road in ways that we just haven’t even imagined yet.” Steinberg adds that parents have to be thoughtful about what they post.

Posting things that parents may consider innocent, like temper tantrums or potty training stories, can be embarrassing for children when they are older. But CJ Goodman, a Supervisory Special Agent with the FBI in Jacksonville, has seen even darker consequences: “The problem with that is that anything you put out there is susceptible for anybody to grab.”

“You may not realize how much information you’re putting out there. Simple things like a full name or birthdate could open that child to identity theft years down the road. But also, the more details posted, the easier it is for predators to find a child or family. Somebody else, unfortunately, will continue to gather up that information,” warns the FBI special agent. According to Steinberg, “If we’ve shown them that we value their privacy. I want to think that it’s more likely that they will value the privacy of others going forward.”

Steinberg and Goodman agree that it is unrealistic to expect parents never to post anything about their children. Still, both say parents need to be wary of oversharing, mainly because information put out there can’t be taken back. People can go back and delete old pictures or posts. But nothing is ever truly gone from the internet.

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