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It's official: 'Sharenting' is the new buzzword. With social media on the rise and with parents establishing a very strong social media presence, 'sharenting' is definitely the new talk of the town and it looks like it won't be going anywhere anytime soon.
'Sharenting' is a portmanteau of the words 'sharing' and 'parenting'. 'Sharenting' is not to be confused with ''sharenting as equal parenting''; that is, couples sharing parental responsibilities. Here, I take 'sharenting' to mean something quite different; that is, as Alicia Blum-Ross, a researcher at the LSE Department of Media and Communications puts it: 'sharenting' is:
the slightly awkward term for when parents share photos and stories about their children online, via social networks and blogs.Along the same lines, Collins Dictionary defines it as:
the habitual use of social media to share news, images, etc of one's children.
'Sharenting' is both a phenomenon and a trend which is growing rapidly, becoming a major subject of research by increasing numbers of scholars worldwide who wish to explore the benefits and drawbacks of this activity, as well as to shed light on the reasons why parents share information of their children on the internet. Apart from researchers, however, 'sharenting' is equally capturing the attention of journalists and companies, such as AVG Technologies that also try to understand its logic and implications. That said, let's have a look at what is currently being said about 'sharenting' from around the world:
- Mothers are more willing to post photos of their children.
- On average, children acquire a digital identity by the age of six months.
- Parents share photos of their children to create and maintain social relations online.
- Parents post photos of their children online to receive social confirmation that they are able to fulfil the parental tasks.
- Most popular types of photos parents share relate to children's daily life, outings and special events.
- A survey of 2000 British parents' use of social media estimated that the average parent will post their child's image online almost 1000 times by the time they are five.
- A poll of 2000 UK parents showed that while parents shared around 195 images per year of their children, they were not especially concerned about privacy settings or copyright.
- The Pew Research Center survey of American parents found that few were concerned about content posted about their children by other family members or caregivers on social media.
- A survey of Australian mothers found a low level of concern about data privacy and security issues relating to their personal data or those of their children.
- Digital Diaries AVG interviewed parents from 10 different countries and observed that 80% mentioned to have uploaded images and information about their children (ages 0-2) to share with grandparents, family and friends. 62% of parents shared photos of their children up to the age of 2. 50% of parents had shared photos of their new-born babies. 80% of parents were not totally public about sharing photos and only did so with family members and friends. 25% of parents admitted to ''showing off'' their children online, 8% created an e-mail account for their child, and 6% went on to creating a profile on a social network (children were 2 years or younger).
There is significant amount of research in the pipeline and I am sure that 2017 will unveil more interesting facts about 'sharenting'. There is still a lot we don't know about this new practice of modern parenting, such as the social and geographic diversity of digitally engaged parents, how the digital media construct and reproduce the concept of ''good parenting'' and how this further impacts 'sharenting'. What we do know though is that 'sharenting' is becoming a major and common practice for many parents around the world.