Parenting is a marathon, not a sprint. As parents, we make hundreds of decisions for our kids on a daily basis. What they eat, how they sleep and what toys they play with are just a few. We also decide whether or not to share pictures of our precious little ones on social media.

The online sharing of these beautiful moments has become known as Sharenting. We share information about our kids for many reasons.

We might do it to make our family members feel more connected to us or to commiserate with other moms and dads about our current situation. We might do it just for the pure joy of the moment or an occasional humble brag. For some parents, sharing that adorable photo on Facebook or Instagram of our baby with chocolate cake all over his/her face or of them playing at the beach is innate. Some even go so far as to make their babies their own Instagram pages.

Others might take a more cautious approach such as never speaking directly about their little ones by name or by posting photos that don’t show their children’s faces. Whatever your approach, there are a few things you might want to consider the next time you post a photo of your kids.

Safety concerns

What unintended information are we revealing through these photos? Most of us probably wouldn’t post sensitive information like our address or phone number on social media.

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However, it's the small details in our photos that could potentially lead to danger. A school uniform or the name of the public park you frequent being visible in a picture could potentially open us up to stranger danger. The more details predators are able to obtain from our posts, the more willing our children might be to trust them. While child abduction may be rare, the fact of the matter is, once we upload pictures online, we don’t know what happens to them. Another risk we take by posting photos is that they could be stolen, possibly Photoshopped and reposted inappropriately.

Consent

While many parents teach body autonomy - the ability and the right to say no to any unwanted contact - at a very young age, the argument could be made that that concept could be applied to parents' social media use as well: The idea is that our children have the right and the ability to express what they feel comfortable and uncomfortable with when it comes to their online presence. That discomfort could come from a very real fear of being bullied or being embarrassed at school and should be taken seriously.

Recommendations

Ultimately, sharenting is a personal decision and looks different for every family. However, the good news is that there are definitely things you could try to put your mind a little more at ease while still sharing those precious family moments. If your kids are old enough to understand, you could ask your children before posting if they like the photo and if they wouldn’t mind others seeing it.

If they are too young, ask yourself if it were you, would you want this online? Is it embarrassing? Could it come back to haunt your child in some way? As far as safety is concerned, you could double check your photos for anything that could give away your location. You could check your privacy settings to make sure they are set to your liking and change the settings of old pictures. If you are looking for an alternative to Facebook and Instagram you could use an invite-only photo sharing site such as Tiny Beans for friends and family. And lastly, you could help others out by not posting pictures of others’ kids without asking their permission first.

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