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Sharenting: Parents may be putting their children’s safety at risk

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By EMN Updated: Jul 25, 2019 12:19 am
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Eastern Mirror Desk

Dimapur, July 24: Parents sharing pictures and news about their children on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter might be infringing on their privacy, says a recent study.

According to a research conducted by the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, USA, “sharenting”, has become a social norm where parents share frequent updates of their child on social media. The child’s online presence might therefore, put their privacy and consequently their safety at risk.

“Sharenting” is an informal term used to describe habitual use of social media by parents to share news, images, etc. of their children.

The researchers — Mariea Grubbs Hoy and Alexa K. Fox — inferred from their study that “women’s feelings of vulnerability about being a mother are linked to their posting on social media — and those posts sometimes include their children’s personally identifiable information, such as names, birthdates, and photographs.”

“Today’s parents, many of whom grew up sharing their own lives on social media, may not comprehend the full impact and potential consequences of posting such information about their children,” the researchers said.

The research comprised of a study of first-time mothers between the ages of 24 and 40. They were asked questions relating to motherhood, reasons for posting online content about their children and whether they understood information co-ownership and privacy rules.

The women revealed that their “changing body, a changing view of self, new responsibilities associated with motherhood, demands of nursing, exhaustion, and issues such as postpartum depression or anxiety” contributed to their feelings of vulnerability.

“Posting about their experiences and sharing personal information about themselves and their children served as a coping strategy, primarily related to seeking affirmation/social support or relief from parents’ stress/anxiety/depression,” the researchers wrote. “Every mother mentioned posting milestones ranging from the infant reaching the ‘month birthdays’ to children’s firsts and other ‘cute’ moments. They then waited, at times eagerly, for affirmation in the form of likes or comments.”

However, the researchers stated that the mothers were also apprehensive about sharing such information as they were aware that it could be misused by other social media users in ‘”unwelcome ways”.

The researches proposed that parents need to be educated about the repercussions of sharing personal information of their children on social media. They also suggested that there needs to be an “enhanced governmental guidance to protect children’s online privacy from commercial entities.”

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By EMN Updated: Jul 25, 2019 12:19:12 am