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.
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).
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.
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?