Let the children play

Namira Hossain writes about the dangers of parents who share extensively about their children on social media

source- internet

Children are incredibly astute creatures, I have discovered. They soak in their surroundings and read all nonverbal cues and observe the behaviours of the so-call ‘adults’ around them with curious minds. It is the year 2017 and what do children see when they look around a room? They see the adults, lost in a world inside a tiny little screen that has killed conversation and human interaction. They also observe that the adults around them like taking pictures quite a bit. Some of these pictures are called ‘selfies’ which are taken by extending their limbs out in ungainly positions where you can see yourself and make funny faces. When these adults are not taking selfies – they take pictures of their food (sometimes by standing on tops of chairs), pets, random things on the street and of course – them (the very observant little kids).

Gone are the days of pouring over childhood albums, cribbing over a pot of tea, laughing at awkward phases and the ridiculous clothes of decades gone by. Now, everybody has internet fame and glory, as their pictures and videos fill newsfeeds of friends and strangers alike. Of course, those who have children love to take pictures of them. Why wouldn’t they? They are adorable and they do and say funny things every day. Of course, it makes sense that they would want to share it with the world….but wait, back up a bit. Do they really want to share it with the world? If they are warning their children about strangers, would they really want those strangers to have access to their child’s photos, so that they can be downloaded and shared on predator sites? Probably not.

This little habit, which seems harmless enough on the offset is known as ‘sharenting’. That is, sharing posts about your child – be it photos, videos, posts about comments they have made etc. And it would make sense that parents would want to share milestones in their children’s development with their near and dear ones. Go through these pictures though, and they can be a bit disconcerting sometimes. Pictures of the first day of school and holidays are great – but some parents choose to share photos of their children on the toilet, or crying, at the hospital etc. Are these moments in which anyone would like to be seen? Given how many times people check a picture after it has been taken to choose what goes on Facebook and what doesn’t, I’m guessing those same people would not like it if they were captured in such moments and those same photos were shared on social media.

It is also not just about the fact that the faces of these children are out in the World Wide Web for the world to see. And you know, once something is out there – it can never be removed. But this is not just about that, it is about the myriad of ways that this may affect the child having so many aspects of their lives shared online – without their permission. If a child is crying or in pain, and the parent is too busy taking videos of their child without comforting them – that’s a serious problem. If a parent is constantly asking their child to pose and posting those pictures everyday- then they need to ask themselves whether they are looking for those likes and validation for their own egos.

In a study conducted last year in the United States with a sample size of 250 families, majority of children over 10 revealed that they felt frustrated and embarrassed when their parents shared photos of them. Many parents don’t think about the time that will come when their children will be old enough to Google themselves and may not be too happy about the things that they will find.

This is the first generation that has been born into the world of social media, and it is not so surprising that many of them are very adept at posing, with bent knees, the sassy elbow triangle and the picture perfect smile. What’s more uncanny than 5 year olds looking like sorority girls – is the fact that they have the words Facebook and Instagram in their lexicon. Not only does this behaviour of ‘sharenting’ or rather ‘oversharenting’ stem from narcissism but it also encourages narcissism as the children become more self-conscious about their looks or the way they are presented to the public.

Even though it is still too early to know about the long-term repercussions of this habit, it is common sense to surmise that it probably isn’t too healthy for the child. The pride and joys of parenthood are manifold, but it shouldn’t be about an ego trip. As with anything else though, consideration should be exercised with this habit. We already live in a world of too much information, and an innocent child should not have to pay the price for it – they should be able to enjoy their childhoods without having to worry about their public persona.