Are You A Sharenting Parent? Here’s How It Can Harm Your Kids!

By forcing kids to be part of "content" or sharing too much about them in public, they are being deprived of their precious childhood that comes only once. 

If you are wondering whether I had made a typo in my title, let me tell you that I did not. Sharents do exist in today’s world! A combination of the words “sharing” and “parenting”, the urban dictionary defines sharenting as a phenomenon in which “parents share too much of their children’s information, pictures, and private moments online”.

Unfolding the story!

If I do a recap of the mid nineties, I instantly see a landscape very different from what it is now.

When our child was born in a country far away from our homes, we let our families be a part of his tiny universe by clicking pictures, getting them printed, and sending them through snail mail to India. However, those moments were shared only with people who were close to us: our parents, siblings, relatives, and friends. How could we even think about allowing complete strangers to see those pictures?

With the advent of social media, the concept of sharing has dramatically changed and acquired unbelievable dimensions. We now have the malaise of sharenting!

Browse through Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, and what not to see what a big brigade of kids is made to do. Although your identity is not known to them, you will get wide and easy access to see their pictures and videos. These children range from newborns to teens. You see them singing, lip-syncing, dancing, crying, acting, reading, and writing. Name any activity, and you will find one such video there.

Looking at the darker side!

It is perfectly fine to share pictures and videos of your kids on social media when you know who the audience is. Children are precious, and it is such a joy to watch them doing something interesting. The complications, however, arise when parents cross boundaries and open up their social media accounts for public viewing with absolutely no power to keep tabs on who is seeing them.

With the craze of gaining followers, it is utterly foolish to assume that only the purest of souls are watching your child’s content. When all those invisible trolls and predators are lurking around, the tiny ones are at a risk of being stalked.

Sometimes obnoxious comments are posted below a picture or video. Is it worth exposing children to such toxicity when they are totally unaware of what is happening?

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A mom influencer once shared on the US television show Good Morning America why she removed all pictures of her kids from her social media account. She discovered that their pictures were stolen to create fake accounts with made-up stories and identities.

Kids are sometimes used as money minting machines!

Child influencers have been on the rise, and unfortunately, it is turning into a lucrative business for some parents who are making a fortune out of those YouTube and TikTok videos. Through sponsored posts and collaborations with brands, the online presence of kids is used to generate income. The bad part is that there is a dearth of legal action to protect children from being exploited by parents who are using them for digital content creation. In some cases, there is a mismanagement of finances, with parents pocketing the cash and no funds being set aside for the child’s future.

A refreshing news from the American state of Illinois hit the headlines this August. All thanks to sixteen year-old Shreya Nallamothu, an anti-exploitation bill will be in effect starting July 2024. According to this bill, kid influencers will have to be compensated if they appear in at least 30% of online content created by an adult over a 30 day period. Kids will soon be able to sue their parents if they are not paid for social media posts featuring them.

There is an urgency for such legislation to happen in countries worldwide to protect the future generation!

The personal and psychological issues that may emerge

The consent issue is not considered at all because child influencers are minors. Unknowingly, a child may be a puppet at the hands of his or her parents and do whatever they are being told or taught. Years later, when they grow into adults and have their own distinct personalities, the dynamics could change. This may turn out to be a major cause of discontent between parents and children, with the latter feeling that their privacy was violated by sharing information that they may not have wanted to be public.

Fame is what comes pouring in for child influencers. This may have an adverse affect because although they may not understand the praise at first, eventually they will recognize what it is. There is a potential downside that a child may turn out to be an attention-seeker always eager to earn the limelight!

Giving serious thought and acknowledging the reality

The videos that are posted demand a lot from the children. Orchestrated by parents or adults who are obsessed with increasing those “likes”and followers, the kids are made to perform various acts to perfection.

Who does not want to have a gifted child who excels? But let them sing or dance the way it comes to them spontaneously. Training a child in an art form to nurture his or her creative and artistic faculties is by no means wrong. However, it is very different from leading and forcing them to perform acts so that elders gain something from that.

Parents need to realize that the influence that they are seeking to build around their children is purely temporary and will fade away at some point of time. If their kids are meant to shine, stardom will come to them by virtue of their talent. But by being forced to make content of their childhood, they are being deprived of naturally living that precious stage of their lives that comes only once.

So a piece of advice for the sharents: Prioritize the safety of your children, and let them be what they are: don’t take their innocence away!

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About the Author

Rashmi Bora Das

Rashmi Bora Das is a freelance writer settled in the suburbs of Atlanta. She has a master’s degree in English from India, and a second master’s in Public Administration from the University of read more...

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