Friday, 4 August 2017

Are we oversharing?


It seems to be a bit of a hot topic currently that we are oversharing photos of our children across social media. Or ‘sharenting’ as it has become known as.  Which to me sounds like something you do as a teenager up the rugby field after too much Frosty Jacks. Cor, did you hear about Lisa? She let Craig give her a good ol’ sharenting at the weekend.  As a parent blogger, and avid follower of many others I do not think twice about how natural it is for parents today to share photos of their children on their profiles. There has been a small revolution occurring in the last few years, one that has changed how we see modern parents and that is the honest accounts of parenting. Not a set up scene, or a paper of the cracks façade but a real-life insight into what we all go through every single day. This has redefined the out of reach social expectations we have been so used to in yester years, or the ridiculous notion we should not share our struggles and suffer in silence. It is standard to announce pregnancies with scan photos, celebrate milestones all via photos on social media. Apparently that 7/10 parents would not share photos of their children online, and some including actress Romola Gerai said that we should be prosecuted for sharing photos. As a child cannot consent they we are exploiting them by using their image which could be taken and used, that by sharenting we are harming our children and their future.

Sharing to much?
Until I had Elijah I didn’t even have a Facebook account set up, and I joined Instagram on an afternoon impulse. A way to share photos (mainly of Elijah) as like any proud hormonal new mum I wanted to share and show him off to the world. What I didn’t expect was to connect with many other parents but especially other NICU and CHD parents and in turn their photos/posts gave me hope. That Elijah could grow up and have a normal life, that there were so many positive success stories, so many people campaigning for things that would change the future of parents to come for generations. That they were using their social media platforms to raise awareness, to get a message out there, and in some cases just to get through the day in one piece. I have shared photos of Elijah for nearly three years, and my blog followed. My blog is called The Honest Confessions and that is exactly what I do. I honestly confess what it is like to have a child in NICU, to face surgery, to be pregnant, my birth story and my mental health struggles. Do I see this as oversharing? To me it isn’t, but to document my daily life and feelings it may be to some. Starting the blog and writing is a way for me to process everything, the good the bad and the ugly. If I was feeling like this were other people? Would they benefit from reading my posts? Could it make just one person feel like they are not alone? To give them hope as other stories have done for me? One post, one photo that it is all it could take to save someone from feeling like this. That is why I share our daily lives.

It could be argued that be sharing so much via the blog and photos of Elijah and now Harlow could be detrimental to them. That they may not want to read about the time their mum gave birth to them, or find it difficult when they read my mental health struggles. Elijah is three and Harlow only a month old they do not know or understand what I write about or share. However, if when they older they turned around and didn’t want me to share a photo of them or write about them as such I would stop. I will always be honest with my boys, so what I have written before will not come as a shock to them. I will not share photos of them naked, or something that could affect them personally later down the line. I am in control to a degree of what I put up on my social media and blog but I am also very mindful of the fact my accounts and blog are public and on the internet and I cannot control what people could do to the photos. Some have asked me before what my partner Greg thinks of me sharing so much and so candidly online, uploading daily posts and stories and the thing is he doesn’t mind. At times he actively encourages it, being so open online to strangers gave me the confidence to face my demons and talk to him about how I was really feeling. It made us closer when I wasn’t hiding how I really felt and told him the truth.

An expert said that by sharing photos online of our children then we are encouraging them to focus on appearance and not their personality. Not sure if she has seen my Instagram feed but it most certainly is not about appearance and it is all about the personality (well, normally the weird and wonderful exploits of a toddler and a new born). That this will in turn make them obsess over getting the perfect ‘selfie’ and fixate on looks. I do not think it is parents encouraging this but rather the over filtered, over photo shopped media and the ridiculous expectations they enforce. I have been sharing my post partem progress online and it has boosted my self-confidence, and taught me to accept and be proud of my body.

It is your decision whether you share a photo of your children, just as it is your decision to follow someone that does but this does not mean they are a bad parent or any less of a parent if they choose to share photos or not.  Do we need to be prosecuted for this though? No, why don’t we spend this time and energy on teaching our children to be safe online isn’t that what matters? Why don’t we use social media for good for once? To raise awareness of issues, to campaign for change to make someone feel less alone? To promote body condifence. To save a parent from feeling low? We are in an age where celeb parents upload daily and show us their real lives, where people rush to complete stranger’s aid via a call for help put on social media. Where one photo of a poonami explosion provides some welcome light relief after a rubbish day, or a photo with someone else in their PJ’s at 16.00 with more bags than Morrison’s make you feel less alone. Could you argue there is no privacy anymore, that we share all of ourselves online? Are we invading our children’s privacy? Perhaps, we do share too much but for the unity, the support and the fact a lot of us are just trying to get through parentdom in one piece I am grateful for the sharenters (seriously who came up with this?).
So yes, for selfish reasons I do sharent, as it helps me personally and mentally and I hope it helps others and if it does get us through the day and makes us better parents; I can only see this as a good thing.

I am off to sharent right now, just kidding, the toddler is naked eating jam on toast.


 

 

 

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