4 Ways to Avoid “Sharenting” and Set Social Media Boundaries With Your Kids

Picture yourself in your child’s shoes.

Courtesy of Fedorovekb / Shutterstock
Courtesy of Fedorovekb / Shutterstock

For parents, social media can be a helpful tool to get advice and stay connected with friends and family. But it can also provoke “sharenting” — which The New York Times recently defined in a video op-ed as, “when parents overshare photos and other data about their children on social media,” often without their permission. 

We asked members of the Thrive community to share their best tips for sharing about their kids on social media while still maintaining healthy boundaries with technology, as well as respect for their children’s privacy. Their tips can help you open a conversation with your kids about an online presence they’re comfortable with. 

Imagine yourself in your child’s shoes

“During my daughter’s first year of life, I refrained from sharing pictures of her on social media. However, as she started to develop a personality, I couldn’t help but brag about her achievements. As a best practice, I always ask myself, ‘Would I want my mother sharing a picture of me like this on social media?’ before I post. I try to think from my daughter’s shoes as well as consider her safety before sharing with strictly the people I trust.” 

—Erandi Palihakkara, digital marketing manager, Savannah, GA

Set up a private account for sharing

“We have a 15-month-old daughter, and she is an absolute performer. We love to share her pictures, but to protect her identity and safety, we created an Instagram account solely to share pictures of her without anyone else shown in the photos. This limits the ability to identify her and our family. It is a very entertaining way to share pictures with friends and family that we know and trust, whilst protecting her identity and well-being.”

—Terrence Kommal, M.D., healthcare, Pretoria, South Africa

Keep posts positive 

“When we adopted my son a decade ago, we agreed to keep in touch with his foster parents.  They raised him as their son, and took us to explore Korea to bond with him just days before they said goodbye. When we realized they were on Facebook, they joined the family and friends who kept up with our lives. For my son, Facebook is a way to connect in real-time, but he understands the responsibility and visibility of using the platform. To keep him engaged and prepared to do this himself, he has final say on photos and content, and we make sure to keep our posts positive.”

—MaryAnn McClung, corporate strategist, Dallas, TX

Define levels of intimacy

“I always ask myself and my wife two questions before we post on social media: Why are we sharing this to the world, and is this positive for the future of our child? We’ve also defined three levels of intimacy: Only for us, only for our family, or for everyone. Only when the piece of content at hand is relevant for everyone do we post it.”

—Juan Sanchez, cofounder, Raleigh, NC

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