Lind­say Woods

Irish Examiner - Weekend - - Inside - @the­girlinthep­a­per

SHARENTING: a term used to de­scribe the overuse of so­cial me­dia by par­ents to share con­tent based on their chil­dren. It is re­lated to the con­cept of ‘too much in­for­ma­tion’. There is an on­go­ing de­bate as to how par­ents can bal­ance their right to share with their child’s in­ter­est in pri­vacy.

The term is de­fined by one of the cor­ner­stones of the in­ter­net: Wikipedia.

So­cial me­dia is a vastly dif­fer­ent animal to when I joined sev­eral years ago. In­sta­gram launched in Oc­to­ber 2010, an en­tire year af­ter the birth of my first child. My sec­ond child fol­lowed along in 2011 yet it was not un­til she was a year old that I fi­nally dipped my toes into the world of so­cial me­dia.

The early days of shar­ing in­volved fram­ing our squares with a white border and an over­fond­ness of the Hud­son fil­ter. Shabby chic was cut­ting edge and hash­tags were min­i­mal. It was all so in­no­cent. No agen­das.

But, so­cial me­dia is big busi­ness. In­sta­gram boasts one bil­lion monthly users. One bil­lion. In­stan­ta­neous con­nec­tion at your fin­ger­tips. We are a gen­er­a­tion of shar­ers. Which has as many

But when do mo­ments of my day which I share on­line cross over into the do­main of ‘Sharenting’?

By shar­ing the tougher mo­ments, it al­lows me to con­nect with oth­ers who have had sim­i­lar ex­pe­ri­ences. It al­lows us as par­ents to know that we are not alone. In an age where we work longer hours, with more de­mands upon us so­cially and pro­fes­sion­ally it can be some­what of a com­fort to speak with some­one who can re­as­sure you that you are, in fact, muck­ing along quite nicely.

It’s hard to nav­i­gate to what de­gree you should share. With the mon­eti­sa­tion of so­cials, the noise has in­creased con­sid­er­ably in vol­ume. But, you can eas­ily re­duce those lev­els by one turn of the dial.

As each year has passed, my so­cial pres­ence has be­come more about me as op­posed to my chil­dren. But I do not re­gret what I have shared, or will share in the fu­ture, as they are as much a part of me as I am of them. It comes back to re­spon­si­bil­ity; the hope that I can show my kids how to use those plat­forms re­spon­si­bly. That by the time they will be en­gag­ing on­line they will pros as it does cons. But when that shar­ing in­volves oth­ers: namely, our chil­dren, where do we draw the line?

I de­cided ini­tially to not put my­self in the ‘Glasshouse of Par­ent­ing Wis­dom’ by say­ing that I would never share pho­tos of my chil­dren on­line. But I did want to con­trol how I pre­sented the im­ages. I ap­plied the fol­low­ing logic: ‘If this was a photo of me, would I be happy to see it?’ I feel, largely I have stuck to that.

Now that they are older, they do not feature as they once did; a choice ex­pressed by them and re­spected by me. When I have writ­ten on a topic which con­cerns them di­rectly, I ask their per­mis­sion to do so. For me, I hope this high­lights to them how I re­spect their choice and hope­fully in­stils in them a re­spon­si­bil­ity to­wards the use of so­cial me­dia.

There are those who scoff at dig­i­tal plat­forms; yes, there is a size­able chunk which can be un­nec­es­sary but for me, it is in­trin­si­cally linked to what I do now. A dig­i­tal foot­print is es­sen­tial to how I com­mu­ni­cate. It is quick and ac­ces­si­ble and whilst I can ac­knowl­edge the pos­i­tives, I am equally con­scious of try­ing to main­tain a smaller as op­posed to a more size­able print. un­der­stand re­spect and the ef­fect of their words.

I could adopt the ap­proach of bury­ing my head in the sand and for­bid­ding any knowl­edge of dig­i­tal ad­vances. But by for­bid­ding, I make it il­licit and all the more cov­etable. So, I choose dis­cus­sion and ed­u­ca­tion. To ac­cent the pos­i­tives whilst high­light­ing the neg­a­tives and how best to han­dle same. To not scare­mon­ger yet in­stil an acute aware­ness of their own safety.

I hope that when my chil­dren are of age, that they will look back at my vir­tual thoughts as a snap­shot of a mo­ment in time; the good, the bad and the ugly. That they will hear my voice and mine alone. The times I failed, the times I suc­ceeded and all the other flot­sam and jet­sam of our daily life. How a col­lec­tion of lit­tle squares and the peo­ple within them, helped me im­mea­sur­ably.

But, I also hope, they will still in­dulge me oc­ca­sion­ally and al­low me the the an­nual birth­day photo when I will gush and mar­vel be­yond mea­sure at the pass­ing of an­other year. A one time ‘Sharenting’ op­por­tu­nity if ever there was one. At least un­til the Christ­mas py­ja­mas photo…

‘I hope this high­lights to them how I re­spect their choice and hope­fully in­stils in them a re­spon­si­bil­ity to­wards the use of so­cial me­dia

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