Sharenting – a parent’s habitual use of social media to share news and images about their children – puts the child’s online privacy and, potentially, safety at risk, warn researchers.
The researchers found evidence that women’s feelings of vulnerability about being a mother are linked to their posting on social media.
Those posts sometimes include their children’s personally identifiable information, such as names, birthdates, and photographs, showed the findings published online in the Journal of Public Policy and Marketing.
The women who participated in the research articulated a variety of risk factors for vulnerability – a changing body, a changing view of self, new responsibilities associated with motherhood, demands of nursing, exhaustion, and issues such as postpartum depression or anxiety.
"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.
The research was carried out by Alexa K. Fox from the University of Akron and Mariea Grubbs Hoy from the University of Tennessee – both in the US.
The researchers suggest the need for enhanced governmental guidance to protect children’s online privacy from commercial entities.
They also suggest that parents need more education about the consequences of sharing their children’s personal information.
"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 wrote.