I share my thoughts on sharenting and why I don’t share pictures of my child on social media and some compromises I’ve made to satisfy that need.
Since starting my blog over a decade ago, I’ve shared a hell of a lot about my life. You’ve learned about my high functioning anxiety, my history with orthorexia, my infertility and IVF, and my breastfeeding struggles (to just name a few of my more personal posts). If you follow me on YouTube, you see me in action (and often scantily clad in a gold onesie).
Clearly, I am not shy and I am not private.
I get an enormous amount of pleasure sharing my life with the world.
This is why I chose the a path working in media.
But considering my role in the public eye, you may be wondering why you’ve never seen the most important thing in my whole life – my son. In fact, if you missed my ONE announcement photo Instagram story, you may not even know his name. So why the heck don’t I share pictures of my child on social media?
Why I Don’t Share Pictures of My Child on Social Media
Okay, so first thing I want to say is that I don’t want this to come off as elitist or holier than thou about my choice to not share pictures of my kid online. This is a multi-faceted choice and not necessarily the “right” one, and mommas have enough guilt over the choices they make. You do you!
Second, I get that there are a ton of benefits to sharing photos of your family online. A lot of our relatives don’t get to see our son on the regular, so keeping them updated in his impressive accolades (like eating fancy chicken pate) and milestones (like rolling around like an acrobat), is really valuable stuff.
Third, and most importantly you should know that this no-sharing thing isn’t easy for me. Legit EVERY day I have to fight with myself NOT to spam you on my Instagram feed with pictures of my son. I mean, I know I’m biased but he is SO FREAKING CUTE and he does CRAZY adorable things, and I have never been so proud of anything I’ve ever even been affiliated with in my life. Forget about humble bragging! I often want to start a Facebook ad campaign with a carousel of his pictures because the reality is, I’M TOTALLY THAT KIND OF MOM.
Yes my friends, left to my own devices, I am a total “sharent” (aka. a parent who loves sharing pictures of their kid on social media.) This isn’t even considering the fact that social media is my job, and it’s very hard for me to give you an authentic genuine look inside my life when my life is about 95% baby, and 5% everything else. Not to mention, there is an opportunity cost of not sharing. I have a lot of brands who have wanted to work with me, but declined when I told them I wouldn’t post photos of my son. Ugh, honestly folks… it’s never easy to turn down work.
So if I feel such an innate desire to photo-vomit all over you with shots of my kid in the bath, in his high chair, on his play mat, and in his crib ALL THE LIVE-LONG DAY, why have I held back?
Here’s why I’m choosing to limit my kid’s digital footprint.
I am Worried about His Safety
I used to really love all those shows and movies about abductions and missing kids. Now they make me physically sick to my stomach. There is NOTHING in this world that scares me more then the idea of anyone taking and hurting my baby, and we do know that the internet can be a dangerous place. Once an image is out there (even in what we deem to be more private settings), it’s out in the world for the taking, and there are a lot of dangerous sick people out there thriving on images of young kids. Is it likely someone would target my kid? No, probably not, but is it a risk I want to take? When we add in geotagging and facial recognition technology that is very quickly becoming common place, it’s getting easier and easier for bad adults to locate the people from images they find online.
I Have No Right Curating my Kid’s Brand
Let’s be real. I’m a brand. I mean, I’m also a person, but the Abbey you see on social media is admittedly a curated Abbey. Even when I’m engaging in “real talk” (which is, really all true), it’s still filtered, edited, sometimes mulled over for months before I decide to push “publish”. As a result, the things that influencers (like me) share on social media about their kids is also curated. But I chose my brand. I am in control. I’m not sure it’s fair to curate my son’s “brand” without his very important input. Technology is also quickly evolving. It’s very likely that by the time my son is old enough to have his own Facebook account, that facial recognition technology will have already compiled a million images of him from online and added it to his online identity and digital footprint. It’s possible, just maybe that he won’t want a picture of him in a pumpkin costume beside his law school head shot (#JewishMother). He might not care, he might think it’s cute, but maybe I should leave it to him to make that call.
I Don’t Have His Consent
On that note, let’s talk about consent. There’s a lot of talk about consent in the media these days, and I would say for really good reason. My son, although he’s a genius obviously, is still too young to consent to any images I share of him online. While I have no shame in prancing around in a gold onesie with my breastfeeding boobs legit falling out, that’s my prerogative. I’m a consenting adult. It’s possible my son will be a confident bad ass attention-lover like his mama, but it’s also possible that he will be shy, reserved and private. Even if I were to abstain from posting the naked bath shots for the world to see his willy, I would never forgive myself if he grew up and was embarrassed by the seemingly benign images I did share.
My Husband Asked Me To
Okay, so now is where we get real again. While all of the aforementioned reasons help explain why I don’t share pictures of my child on social media, the biggest reason is because my husband asked me not to. Before Baby E was here, I fought him HARD on this, and it’s only now that some of his concerns make sense. But even when they didn’t, and the thought of not sharing my pride and joy with the world KILLED me inside, I agreed to abstain because it was really important to him. I’m no relationship expert, but one thing I’ve learned in the 12 years I’ve been with my hubby is that you’ve got to pick your battles and find ways to compromise so that you both feel satisfied. Sometimes one partner will get the bigger slice of the pie, but the next time it will even itself out. In our home, the “no sharenting” rule was his big slice.
Here’s How I Satisfied my Need to Share Pictures of My Child on Social Media without Breaking the Sharenting Rules
Before I gave birth, I was really worried that I would go absolutely insane without the satisfaction of sharing the one thing I’m most proud of in life- my son. Our compromise was to create a private Facebook photo album for people I *actually* know, where I could post a highlight reel of my son. This gave family members and friends afar a chance to see him grow and mature, while keeping him safe (or at least safer) from the sick perverted corners of the web.
I also occasionally share images that include his feet, hands and other non-identifying body parts online. This helps me stay authentic and genuine online (because this boy is my whole world right now) without revealing his identity.
Finally, any information I do tell publicly about my baby (and I keep it prettttty general), I do so with the pet name Baby E. That way, a google search in the future wouldn’t yield any results of my son’s name and his digital identity and brand would be his to build.
Who knows, maybe one day when Baby E can talk and express his own personality and desires, you may see him appear on my YouTube channel. Heck, you might even see him star in his own channel and blow my subscriber count out of the water (#momgoals). But until he can make those decisions and build his own online brand, I’ll revel in this one perfect precious gift that’s all mine.
Tell me, do you share pictures of your kids on social media and online?
Why or why not?
Do your parents share pictures of you online?
Does that bother you or do you not mind?
Leave me a comment below and join the conversation! I would love to hear your thoughts!
Updated on January 28th, 2020
Abbey Sharp is a Registered Dietitian (RD), regulated by the Ontario College of Dietitians. She is a mom, YouTuber, Blogger, award winning cookbook author, media coach specializing in food and nutrition influencers, and a frequent contributor to national publications like Healthline and on national broadcast TV shows.