"Sharenting?" Yes, I'm Guilty

I admit I do it, too.  In fact, I just did it last week, when my son gave a brief talk at Princeton (yes, University) at age 13.  The reality is that Princeton was just the location of the talk, but he did give it to an audience of IEEE members.

That's The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (to people like me who can't even pronounce double-precision floating point format), and yes, we were very proud.

So, of course, the minute we got home, I put it up on Facebook, and went on to get over 30 likes (hey, I know, not much, but it's the most I've ever gotten!).

And now researchers are saying this isn't such a good idea.  

“By the time children are old enough to use social media themselves many already have a digital identity created for them by their parents,” says Sarah J. Clark, M.P.H., associate director of the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health and associate research scientist in the U-M Department of Pediatrics.

I'm guilty.  I posted photos of him taking his first step (ok, so he was almost 17 months), on his first tricycle, jumping into the swimming pool. Last year his co-ed bowling birthday party.  I got in trouble for that one.

There's even a word for it.  It's called "sharenting."

Clark adds that, on one hand, social media offers today’s parents an outlet they find incredibly useful when looking for advice and what other kids are doing (is mine normal?). On the other hand, some are concerned that over-sharing may pose safety and privacy risks for their children.  Not to mention boredom, for friends.

I've thought about that, too, especially after posting the nude one of him at age two, crawling through the garden after a turtle.  

But what is it that we're really trying to do?  I know that I, as an older mom, struggled for acceptance and recognition that I was doing it right, in the beginning.  Here I was, in my late 40s, having a child, and not even knowing how to hold a bottle.  By posting on Facebook, I could look accomplished -- and hide the shame and fear that I didn't have a clue what I was doing.

Of course, today, it's a little different.  I now know, as parents, we're all bumbling through and just have to take it a day at a time.  Do I get upset when friends post parties my son wasn't invited to?  Of course.  Or when their son shoots the winning basket (when my kid's idea of sports is taking his dishes down the hall to the kitchen)?

So why do we do it?  Does anyone really know?  Are we all trying to prove our lives are better than everyone else's?  I do believe that's part of it.

Who hasn't felt overwhelmed when a child gets an award and yours only got runner-up? I know I've been there, or, as has happened recently, their kids make high honors and yours, just honors, because of that "B" in art.

Researchers worry that we're invading our children's privacy when we post stuff about them.  My son isn't crazy when I do it -- and I try to do it rarely -- but it gives me, I admit it, pleasure.  See?  Look.  My kid's doing okay, too.

So the next time you decide to post that sushi is your kid's favorite meal, remember the rest of us out here.  We don't really care.  And I promise.  I won't post the video of Phillip's speech at Princeton (which I almost did, last night) if  you don't post the one about Harry getting the perfect attendance award. 





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