“Lachlan’s first day at school…I am so proud of him” LIKE.
“Roxy has lice and I have spent three hours combing it out” COMMENT
“Look how clever my Alice is writing her name J” LIKE
The word ‘sharenting’ has been added to the Collins English Dictionary and is defined as “the habitual use of social media to share news, images, etc of one’s children”.
In an era where pictures of children are available on social media, often even before they are born, it is no surprise that this is another topic which sees parents divided in their approach.
Anyone trawling social media will see it is full of the obligatory photographs of children at their first [insert:- birthday party, day at school, award etc]. One wonders how much thought is given by parents to what these children will say to them when, as adults, when they realise that hundreds, potentially thousands of photographs of them (not all of which are complimentary), are available on line.
PROUD PARENTS v PRIVACY PROTECTORS
Unsurprisingly the somewhat controversial topic of sharenting, has a divide. On one side you have the proud parents who feel that everyone would like to know about the achievements, accolades, and experiences that their children are having, in real time. The proud parents also argue that by posting these pictures friends and family are then able to see and share in their children growing up (particularly in circumstances where friends or family may be far away),
On the otherside there are the privacy protectors. These are parents who say they are no less proud of their children and their achievements, but are certainly more cautious about sharing photographs on line. These parents argue that their children’s privacy is paramount and their job as a parent is to protect their children.
It is a topic that is hotly debated and with such a significant impact on children, it is easy to see how parents [whether they are together or separated] can have differing views and so the issue of sharenting can be one of contention.
Whereas 10 years ago this would not have been an item on the agenda for discussion we are now seeing it raised and considered in family law matters. The process of mediation and family dispute resolution in family law matters allows parties to express their respective views (whether the proud parent or the privacy protector), with a view to reaching a resolution.
Other matters for consideration are whether parents should be limiting a child’s use to electronic devices and at what age a child may be able to have a social media account.
With children nowadays well aware of Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat and other social media platforms from a very young age, they may well have a view on whether or not they wish their photographs to be shared on social media. Much like adults, children of a certain age may even be anxious about how many likes their photograph is getting. One can easily imagine how it might be difficult for children in separated families, where one parent is the proud parent and constantly puts photographs and comments of them on social media, and the other privacy protector parent has very strong views about not sharing photographs.
To sharent or not to sharent becomes a question that all parents should be discussing in order that they can consider the impact a ‘quick post’ may have on their children.
This holiday, before you CLICK, POST, SHARE….perhaps you should be speaking to your children.
Joelene Nel is a Family Lawyer, Nationally Accredited Mediator, and Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner. She can be contacted at McLaughlins Lawyers on (07) 5591 5099.
 BBC News article “What is Shareting and should we be doing it?” http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-37858639
 Read this article for information on protecting your child’s safety and posting photgraphs online: https://familyshare.com/26470/for-your-kids-safety-keep-these-5-types-of-photos-of-them-off-the-internet
Author: Joelene Nel
Director: Sophie Pearson