Gone are the days when the only pictures anyone had were either hanging on the walls or as frames on shelves. The rise of smartphones has enhanced the way we immortalize our memories by taking clear, crisp, and digital images, and with fast Wi-Fi connection, these memories can easily become public knowledge when we post them on social media. Most times, posting these pictures is all about gratification and clout- the likes, retweets, and the “you’re so cute xx” comments, but there’s not much harm in this compared to when kids are the objects of these posts.
Many kids today had social media identities and digital footprints even before fully developing into fetuses. It’s crazy. “New school” parents upload baby bumps, ultrasound scan results, and even add captions of their kids’ names for every Tom, Dick, and Harry to see- only in the 21st century could stuff like this be a norm, but what many of these parents don’t know is that these early actions might have repercussions in years to come.
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Some parents even go as far sharing the physical or mental health conditions of their kids to gather some sort of support from the internet community which is about 99% strangers. The coined term for this obsession with sharing too much information about kids is known as Sharenting, and the truth is you’re most likely guilty if you’re reading this as a parent or guardian.
Teenagers are the usual targets of the social abuse bullets, but the truth is adults, parents to be precise, also have their claws deep in this menace. This article will be discussing the concept of sharenting, help you realize what it means, and how it might be affecting the mental health of your teen children.
What is Sharenting?
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The term might not ring a bell, but the practice is becoming quite rampant on the internet. Sharenting describes a situation where parents engage in needless and extreme “sharing” of details about their kids on the internet, so much that their private lives become public knowledge. These details could be in form of pictures, videos, or even texts. Privacy is slowly becoming a myth in the 21st century, and parents are responsible for shielding their kids from the public eye until they can handle any form of exposure, but sharenting throws all that in the trash can and sets it on fire.
It Preaches Egotism
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The truth is, sharenting expresses elements of pride in the ability of parents to provide certain things for their kids: “My daughter Kylie totally ate this outfit up. It cost a fortune, but it was definitely worth it,”or “My son just made the football team! Way to go Tyler!”
While there’s nothing wrong with being proud of your kids and showing them off to the world, some elements of sharenting may have long-term negative effects on the mental health and psyche of your child sooner or later. These negative effects of exposing your kids on social media are quite obvious, but we’ll be discussing them today for clarity.
Setting The Wrong Example For Your Kids
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First off are the events that occur before or while taking the video or picture you’re sharing on social media. Most of the kid videos and images we see as cute or funny actually take some coercion to execute- they all couldn’t have been all perfect without some element of compulsion which may accumulate to have effects on kids’ mental health till their teenage years. Other times, the activities in such images may leave a permanent mark on the psyche of kids, even if they were only for your own entertainment.
A Sense of Selfish Parenting That May End In Tragedy
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Take the case of Michael and Heather Martin who both owned a popular YouTube channel named “DaddyOFive.” Most of the content on their YouTube posts were prank videos, and it included a lot of seemingly funny stuff such as slapping their children, breaking their toys, and even threatening to put them up for adoption. As the popularity of the channel grew, many individuals called them out for their terrible parenting but in their defense, they claimed it was only a joke, and that they had the kids’ consent.
The authorities intervened, and a licensed psychologist gave an analysis of the mental health condition of their kids- the results weren’t good. The results proved that two of the children aged nine and eleven at the moment had experienced some psychological damage explained as “observable, identifiable, and substantial impairments of their mental or psychological ability to function.” No child should experience such.
Posting Without Your Child's Consent May Lead to Trauma
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Another possible mental health demerit of sharenting is the fact that parents may share content on the internet that their kids may find extremely personal or too embarrassing. Sadly, erasing stuff like that from the internet is quite impossible, thereby making it possible for their mates to taunt them with it for as long as possible.
When you share stuff about your kids online without their consent, they have zero control on how it can be used against them or who sees it. Teens with health issues whose parents shared them having episodes of their conditions may become social pariahs which could lead to depression, anxiety, fear of bullying, and other mental health issues.
Exposing Your Child To The Dangers Of The World Wide Web
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The world is getting more dangerous by the minute, and the presence of pedophiles on the internet makes it more dangerous for children. When you post pictures of your 5-year-old daughter on Instagram, there’s every possibility of a pedophile coming across it, disgustingly taking a liking to your daughter and starts tracking your daughter with you being oblivious.
Of course, you make it easy for them by constantly sharing her pictures and tagging your location in each post. These individuals can go as far as tracking your daughter, and between someone who had been planning to get with your daughter and an unprepared parent- there are no words to explain the possible outcome
As a parent, you’re obliged to be at the frontline in protecting the image, rights, and health of your kids. Sadly, you might be putting them in serious peril by sharing aspects of their lives on social media.