‘Sharenting’- harmless fun or an unhealthy habit?

Clara Kelly

two kids laying on a blanket.


Recently, as 6.8 million Facebook users had their photos leaked, the serious discussion of online privacy must be discussed, especially when it comes to the safety of children.  


Parents posting about their children on social media may seem innocent, but it can have some sinister repercussions. 


A child can’t give consent to be posted on social media, therefore, parents set the scary and dangerous digital footprint from the beginning of the kid’s life, from ultrasound photos of the child onwards. The information posted about one child online is more information than that child’s school can collect over the course of their education.


Children don’t have the ability to disagree with their parents posting bath pictures and other sensitive photos on social media. However, they also have no say in whatever political, religious or social messages their parents press on them, so what’s the difference? 


The difference, lies heavily, in what is public and what is private. While as an adult, they may be able to change their beliefs, once a picture is uploaded online, it’s much harder to erase later in life. While also being a lot more easily seen. 


A 2010 study by Forbes showed that in the U.S, more than 90% of 2-year-olds and 80% of babies already had an online presence.


And in 2011, it was estimated that people were only passing acquaintances with about 1/5 of their Facebook friends. Think about how many opportunities relative strangers have to save your posts.


According to a UK report, Barclays has predicted that by 2030 “sharenting” will account for 2/3 of identity frauds. With just a name, date of birth, and address, people can then store this information until a person turns 18 and then begin opening accounts. Even more worrying, is how easy it can be for people to figure out your child’s location from these posts, a seemingly harmless picture of a first day at school, can be incredibly harmful.


And fraud is not the only danger parents have to worry about, ‘digital kidnapping’ is a new and dangerous type of identity theft. It occurs when someone takes photos of a child from social media and repurposes them with new names and identities, often claiming the child as their own. 


It’s understandable to want to share about family on social media but If you do decide to share, take some precautions. Pay close attention to privacy settings, and choose your photos carefully. Because, when it comes to child safety and social media, it may be harder than it seems, for the two to go hand in hand.


By Clara Kelly

Image: PxHere