Posting a photo of your child on Facebook may seem like a harmless way to keep your family and friends up to date, but “sharenting” has actually become a hotly debated topic among parents. As more concern grows for the safety and privacy of children online, one Iowa dad used his children’s social media presence as a learning tool.
“When my son was born, I didn’t want to be that person that filled my feed up with nothing but kid photos, so I thought a better way to do that would be to create a page for him,” says Chris Snider, an assistant professor of journalism and mass communication at Drake University.
Snider has created both Facebook and Twitter profiles for his two children, ages 3 and 5, as well as a Youtube channel. He hopes to use these experiences to teach them lessons about social media; lessons similar to what he teaches to his students.
“The biggest thing – I tell people to think twice about it,” says Snider. “Twitter especially is about being funny, and what’s funny to you may be offensive to someone else. So be aware that senses of humor can be different. Also, never assume anything is private and anything is going to disappear.”
Stacey Steinberg, legal skills professor at the University of Florida College of Law, also sees this issue of child privacy as a tricky field for parents to navigate.
“I’m a mom, and I also take pictures of other families in my spare time. So, I started thinking about how that would affect our kids in the long run,” says Steinberg. “While there were potential solutions in the law, it was mostly a public health issue, so it was up to the parents to be educated.”
During this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Snider and Steinberg, as well as Bahareh Keith, faculty at the University of Florida College of Medicine Department of Pediatrics, and Sara Meehan, co-founder and owner of the Iowa City Mom’s Blog, about the benefits and consequences of sharing their children’s information on social media.