“Sharenting” and Smart Choices on Social Media

As parents, it’s only natural for us to fill our social media feeds with photos of our gorgeous kids. PSP members have raised some interesting points about upsides, downsides, and best practices around doing so, which we encourage you to consider as you navigate your own relationship with social media.


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If you plan on sharing baby/kid pics on social media, take time to do an audit of your social channels. Apply a critical eye to who is actually friends with you/following you, and don’t be shy about removing folks if you’re not comfortable with them viewing your updates.


Find a balance between the desire to share with friends and relatives and the idea that you may want to keep some aspects of your family’s life private. As one member writes: “As an expat living abroad there is a very simple argument for uploading pictures so family/friends around the globe can share in the happiness, but on the other hand having baby on social media from day 1 and effectively cataloguing their every stage takes me to a really dark place of data privacy. As a child that grew up in the 90s with maybe only a few photos of myself as a kid, it’s really got me at a crossroads. Added to that I work in advertising so I have seen how data is used first hand... ”


Have conversations with your broader social network. Be proactive about bringing up the topic of social media with extended family, nannies, babysitters, daycare centers, podding families, and anyone else who might reasonably have the opportunity to post photos of your child. Share expectations about your child's appearance on social media, and offer permission for what they can and cannot share in which contexts. If you have a nanny, you can add these provisions to your nanny agreement/contract so everything is super clear and laid out in writing.


Do a privacy check-up and make sure you’re not accidentally sharing things with the public that you’d rather keep friends-only. The “factory settings” are not always the most intuitive ones when it comes to privacy. Some platforms, like Facebook, will walk you through a privacy check-up process and help you adjust your settings for posts, photos, and who can message you or add you as a friend.


Find out how your data is being used. Do research on your photo library cloud (Google/Amazon/Apple/etc.) and try to assess their policy on monetizing your images for advertising gain. One parent says: “Apparently Apple cloud storage may be the best as they are primarily a manufacturer and don't seem to have interest in monetizing data.”


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Consider private photo sharing platforms such as TinyBeans. PSP members write: “A friend of mine who recently had her first child is using TinyBeans to share. It’s a private photo sharing method. It works really well and you can add as many people as you like and do daily, weekly or other frequency updates and photos.


With my son who is now 2 1/2, we haven’t posted a single photo of him on Facebook. Partly because I am not a huge consumer of social media and we just Whatsapp or FaceTime family abroad or have texted photos. I’ve always been a bit nervous about posting photos for safety reasons and maybe also from feeling a little shy. I think I am going to try TinyBeans with my next little one.” [NOTE: Another member advised that Whatsapp’s privacy policy is unclear, so it’s important to do your due diligence no matter what app or platform you choose.]


“I've used Smugmug for years (and its predecessor before that, ‘phanfare’), and it allows you to change privacy settings depending on the photos. If there's a family reunion, you can give the family access to the photos (and access to download them) while keeping the other albums private. It allows for a lot of flexibility.”


Ultimately, this is a personal decision for you and your family, and wherever you fall on the social media spectrum is okay as long as you all feel comfortable.Still, it’s always beneficial to think critically and analyze your posting habits—as a way to protect your family’s privacy, model positive habits, and (last but not least) avoid an embarrassed child once they get old enough to join the world of social media themselves.


Further reading around the web: