Digital Parenthood

The children of today will need only to look on social media when they are older to get a timeline of their lives. From the milestones to the mundane, their lives are being chronicled in a very public way that no other past generation of children can relate to.

A recent article I came across through Facebook Insights, titled “The Mobile State of Parenthood” really got me thinking about my own children’s lives and how social media has changed parenting.

“Parenting has become a digitally shared experience”

I can clearly remember when I was pregnant with each of my children and trying to figure out when to put the news on social media that we were expecting. That is the first piece of your child’s life on social media, before they are even born into this world. And it is the first of many. From ultrasounds and being born, to first days and first milestones, it is generally all chronicled on social media. Ninety-two percent of American children have an online presence before the age of 2. Parents post nearly 1,000 images of their children online before their fifth birthday.

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But how much is too much? The term “sharenting” has been coined to describe this new phenomena of the overuse of social media by parents to share content about their kids. I am sure we all have a friend on our social media, who definitely shares way too much about their child(ren).

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There are certain milestones or events that their Facebook friends just don’t need to know; however, stats from Facebook seem to contradict that “sharenting” is as hated as we may say. On Facebook in the US, new parent’s posts about their babies receive 37% more interactions from relatives and 47% more interactions from friends than their general posts.

“The arrival of baby transforms a parent’s life in an instant.”

On the flip side though, one of the biggest assets of social media when you are a parent is the connection that it can bring to others going through the same thing, to help you feel connected and not alone during a time that can sometimes feel very overwhelming and so new. Social media can become a bit of a lifeline – moms and dads are more active on Facebook than non-parents.

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Social media allows you to feel connected to your friends and keep up to date on what they are doing, while sharing the reality of your new life as a parent, which means you are usually on Facebook in the wee hours of the morning.  New parents in the US are active on Facebook in the wee hours, starting their first mobile sessions as early as 4am and peaking at 7am.

It also allows you to keep family up-to-date on those cute kids of yours, especially far away family that are not privy to seeing them every day and are not here in person to experience the milestones.

The Insights article made a very interesting extension to the community created by sharing your children’s lives and your life as a parent online – “with sharenting comes a more fluid sense of family. It takes a digital village. Parents’ oversharing rallies family and friends and extends the modern ‘family’ beyond the immediate household.” This is where the beauty and advantages of social media can be seen. Social media is a collaborative tool, and allows us to create these connections and extensions regardless of geography.

“We are shifting back to the an extended family structure,
albeit one of a more virtual kind.”

Now, there is also the dark side to this conversation in terms of privacy and who is actually seeing your children’s photos and the effect this sharing and self-obsession can have on our children who grow up with it. I have deliberately chosen to stay away from the darker side of this topic for this post, as it requires its own post (can it even be dealt with in one post?), and I wanted to focus on the positives of social media as a parent. Social media is a way for us to connect with others, and this is especially useful for those going through similar situations. Parenthood is mind-blowingly awesome and hard, sometimes at the exact same time, and social media allows for us to share both the good and bad moments and create these collective experiences.

How do you feel about those who share about their kids on social media? Do you share about your own children, and how much?

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10 thoughts on “Digital Parenthood

  1. Have you seen the parents that make social media accounts for their kids? So people can follow their kids growing up? Is it too much? I love all my friends kids but I do get tired of seeing thousands of photos a day of my friends kids. So I don’t mind when they have their own social media so I can choose to follow them or not.

    • I have started to see this more often. I have to admit I am on the fence about it. My first instinct is that it seems weird or even somewhat wrong to create a social media account just for my kids, but then I remind myself it is not an account for my kids to use, it is one specifically about them for those like family who are interested, and it would be very private and invite only. It does make sense for those who don’t wish to clog their feeds with pictures of their kids or annoy their friends by “over-gramming”. It seems to be a happy solution for all involved.

  2. I have a young child and I have posted about her/pictures of her since the day we announced our pregnancy. Only recently have I given any thought to how this might make her feel when she is older. I worry a little bit that one day her self esteem is going to be tied to social media and how many likes her picture gets. Mostly, I hope when she looks back at my Facebook page she isn’t embarrassed or upset by anything I so publicly shared!

    • I think our kids will inevitably be embarrassed by what we, as their parents, post. I think that it is just the life cycle that kids will be embarrassed by what their parents share, whether that is a story told to friends, pictures, videos whether in person or online. I feel like my kids are growing up finding this sharing as normal, which has its pros and cons. I think we do have to be aware of our kids and as they get older, asking and listening to their desire for us to share or not. I know for many blogs I read this happened when the kids started school or hit that age where they were aware that their life was being shared on a larger scale.

  3. I may have created accounts for my children. But this are for members on invitation only (or requested by those who want to actually see.) My spouse and I live away from our families, and this allows them to see some of the daily occurrences I feel I wouldn’t want to really post about on my wall. I also share videos and more pictures through social medial but in private messages, because sometimes, some things are things only a grandmother would want to see haha!
    I also understand that my wall may have a heavy kids presence, and therefore do not resent those who do the same as well.

  4. I think your reasoning is very sound for why you created a separate account, especially with those pics that you want to share privately (in that account or DM) with those family members that want to see the events and captures that only grandparents or close family would love. I have not created separate accounts by I am very selective about what I post about my kids and how often, but they are a big part of my life so will take up a large part of my feed, it is just that stage in life I am in and those who are friend with me on social media know that and can make their choice to filter or not follow if they wish. They know what they are getting into 😉

  5. Interesting! I never considered making separate profiles…sometimes it’s a pride thing too…I am very proud and think my daughter is the best thing ever 😉 so I want to share her photos and funny anecdotes with everyone. I figure for those who don’t care to see, they can keep on scrolling!

    • Separate accounts are an easy solution to really controlling who sees the photos of your children and ensure the people who are seeing them are interested, but as you said you are a proud parent and want to share and those who aren’t interested can keep on going. It is all a matter of personal choice 🙂

  6. I think it’s important to share pictures with friends and family. Remember privacy settings are key when it comes to posting photos of children. Social media also helps when you are far away from friends and family. I don’t go overboard with posts about children and events in my life. I think it’s fair to keep people in the loop.

    • I agree, children are a big and important part of our lives and it would be strange not to include them in our social media posts. I think it is to be expected that when sharing about our lives on social media children as definitely part of that…it is just a matter of each person’s definition of “over-sharing”.

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