It’s pretty obvious why I don’t post pictures of my five year old daughter on my blog, considering it’s a blog about us rebuilding our lives after she was sexually abused.
I don’t have a Facebook, Instagram or any personal social media accounts for exactly the same reason. We disappeared from our old life, and I don’t want anyone from our past catching up with us. I recently deleted my PRIVATE, personal Instagram account because, despite there being no photos of my daughter on there, X’s mother had been stalking it (somehow). Before all that though? I posted photos of my daughter online.
I read today that surveys show over 50% of parents post on average 1000 photos of their children before they are 5 years old. I understand why. Taking photos of special moments in our children’s lives isn’t a new phenomenon, it’s just that nowadays with smartphones and social media, it is ten times easier to capture those moments and share them. We no longer have to wait for granny to come visit so that we can dig out last year’s birthday photos, we can just send them, or post them, or tweet them.
Don’t get me wrong, even before everything that happened with X I was very careful what I posted, and who could see it. I have never posted a photo of my daughter in the bath or a pool, or anything less than fully clothed, and I have never understood people who do. No judgement here, I just wouldn’t feel comfortable doing that. Some people don’t think about these things, or maybe just don’t worry about them.
Among the threats of your photos being stolen, used without permission by someone you don’t even know, or viewed for all the wrong reasons, there is also the new issue of “Sharenting”. Much like comparing ourselves to the unattainable standards of our favourite models and instagram personalities, or trying to achieve a craft project that looks as good as those on Pinterest, Sharenting is the act of comparing ourselves to and trying to be better than other parents on social media. It’s unhealthy. It’s unrealistic. It’s happening.
I’m guilty of comparing myself to others. I’d been doing it for so long it was just second nature, but recently we have become aware that doing this is unhealthy and can damage our sense of identity and self esteem. I’m now careful to appreciate what I see, but not to envy or try to replicate it. However I am still susceptible; and while trying to do your own version of that family’s Christmas photo might make you feel fulfilled (or smug?), is it any fun for your kids? Is it an accurate representation of your family? Probably not. It probably isn’t even an accurate account of the ‘perfect looking’ family who posted it in the first place.
The things we share on social media are usually very filtered. Your friend from high school has posted a gorgeous album of holiday photos, a close up of her engagement ring and that one, perfect, valencia tinted selfie; but has she shown you the morning after the holiday cocktails, when her make up was smudged and her boobs were sunburnt? Did she post about the blazing argument her and her fiance had? Does she post selfies when she has no make up on, and tired eyes, and hormonal acne? No.
The same is true of Sharenting. We don’t post photos of our kids melting down in Asda, or videos of their trashed bedrooms, or evidence of that one morning every toddler has where they have taken off their nappy and painted the walls with excrement (if this hasn’t happened to you yet, get ready!). We post expertly posed, edited, filtered content that makes our kids and our lives look perfect. Then, to follow up, we try to one up the parent who has done it a little better than us.
It’s unhealthy, and not real, and for this reason as well as the concerning safety aspects of posting such personal photos online, I advise against it. The odd snap of your fully dressed, un-posed, in action child is fine – just keep an eye on your privacy settings. But in general? My opinion is a big fat NO.
What do you think? Are you a Sharent? Let us know in the comments below!