Description of methods, findings and contribution the research makes to the literature:
Sharing the traditional family album and parenting experience whilst not new, has metamorphosed with the invention of social media. This variant form of parental expression, described as ‘sharenting’, ranges from announcing one’s pregnancy or sharing children’s milestones and celebrations to venting parental frustrations and seeking help. This symbiotic, boundless and shared experience connects people beyond immediate friends and family, creating challenges as the rights’ of parents intersect the rights of children when photos, narrative and other ‘data’ is shared online.
This study explored the rights’ implications of such ‘sharenting’, with specific focus on parents’ rights to freedom of expression and children’s rights to privacy. The study involved secondary data analyses through a systematic review of peer-reviewed literature.
Findings included kaleidoscopic motivations to ‘sharent’ at all stages of childhood, from pre-birth to post-death, with convenience to give and receive support or connect with family, friends or like-minded others permeating the literature. Negative implications outlined privacy challenges including the impact of parent-created digital footprints, monetisation of childhood and the potential objectification of children which may affect perception of self or self-worth and continue to feed existing inter-familial power imbalances.
The study’s aim was to develop an evidence-informed resource for parents regarding sharenting and is central to growing up online discourse as there is a dearth of empirical data on this polarising issue and technology has overtaken an ability to legislate or educate for the digital age.
Recommendations encourage a shift from rights’ wrangling to a risk-sensible, public-health approach that reduces potential harms and focuses on universal values of reciprocated respect, consent and future-focused decision making to help parents make informed choices if they share about their children on social media.