In the social media age, sharenting - parents sharing their parenting journey and information about their children online - has become common practice. As a result of sharenting, many children now have a digital footprint long before they take their first steps.
But children's health advocates are asking parents to exercise more caution in what information they share about their children online. A recent article in JAMA Pediatrics suggests that pediatricians talk to parents about sharenting to promote more consideration in protecting children's privacy online. It recommends parents become familiar with the privacy policies on social media sites, share information anonymously, and consider the impact the information could have on their child in the future.
A 2015 Mott Poll shows how pervasive sharenting has become. Among parents of children age 0-4,
- 56% of mothers and 34% of fathers reported discussing child health and parenting topics on social media
- Three-quarters said they know of another parent "oversharenting" - sharing too much about a child on social media, such as embarrassing, personal or inappropriate information
- 52% of parents were concerned that when their children are older, they might be embarrassed about what was shared on social media
Pediatricians can help protect children's online privacy by making parents aware of the risks, and guide parents who "sharent" to do so without compromising their child's privacy.