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Sharenting: No Option To Opt Out

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It is important to consider the privacy of your children on the internet.

As we approach “Data Privacy Day” on January 29th, an international effort held annually to spread awareness about the importance of internet privacy and protecting personal information. On one hand, social media offers today’s parents an outlet they find incredibly useful. On the other hand, some are concerned that oversharing may pose safety and privacy risks for their children,” Sarah J. Clark, associate research scientist in the University of Michigan’s Department of Pediatrics.

Social media offers an outlet they find useful but each time you share a picture, post about your child’s upcoming activities, or share their location, you are putting them at risk. Some are exchanging privacy for instant gratification and attention; many people live vicariously through their children. It is possible that bringing that mentally to the social media platform can bring out narcissistic tendencies in parents who seeks personal satisfaction by the number of “likes” received which can enable an exploitative like behavior.

Social media is the new normal for social interaction and if there is a parent who gets support from other parents who help them cope with parenting issues or concerns because of something they shared in reference to their child then that’s the exception. Mothers dealing with postpartum depression have found advice from other mothers to be helpful. Fathers have connected with other fathers to learn the science behind set up and take down of a stroller. So “sharenting” isn’t all bad in some cases. But it definitely depends on what and how much you share.

In the meantime, posting about all aspects of your child’s life can lead to a child struggling with their identity and a sense of security. Be careful that you aren’t creating a digital life your child cannot live up to, or desires to in the future.

Parents are responsible for their children’s privacy, just as they are for their safety and what you share online could very well put that child in harm physically. No longer do pedophiles have to roam the streets and lurk around playgrounds, stalking children when their names, age, school team, band practice, dance rehearsal, swim meet, etc. are shared online by the parent. Those intimate settings of babies in bath tubs, in swim suits on the beach, or in leotards at ballet practice are being kidnapped by child predators and shared in places like the hidden websites that require special software. The same place where child pornography is sold or exchanged.

Be weary of posting in private groups as well. There is a false sense that everybody has the members of the groups best interests in mind. Privacy settings are not enough and no matter how much you trust them there is always a risk that people have control over their devices, who uses their social media accounts, and have robust security settings in place. You would have to trust your inner immediate circle, and their inner circle and the out circle to have said settings in place. Which in these times will is not the case.

It may take a while for the “right to be forgotten” laws, like ones in the European Union and in Argentina that allow an individual to request personal information be scrubbed from search-engine results, to be passed to protect minors in the United States. In the meantime, posting about all aspects of your child’s life can lead to a child struggling with their identity and a sense of security. Be careful that you aren’t creating a digital life your child cannot live up to, or desires to in the future.

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Reginald Corbett

Reginald Corbett

Reginald Corbett is the founder of SafeCyber, an organization whose mission is to educate and promote cyber awareness to schools, community organizations, parents and care takers of youth. He travels state to state raising awareness about cyber safety topics such as Cyberbullying, Dangers of Social Media Apps, Online Predators of Children, and Digital Footprint and Reputation. Reginald is the author of the soon to be released book, “Protecting our Children in the Digital Age,” where he discusses how parents can protect their children by sharing his own experience with his teenage daughter. He also focuses on how technology can influence the behavior of youth and put their safety at risk while being constantly hyper-connected.

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