When I scroll down my feed on any social media app, I am bombarded with Sharenting - the kind of content that parents share of their kids on social media about everything from what they eat for breakfast to which pajamas they sleep in. These influencers, or rather momanagers and popagers, share their kid's life on social media, seemingly without thinking about the consequences, and some have even turned their Sharenting into a lucrative business. This a worrying trend, if you are like me, and here is why.
As a mom of a five-year-old girl, I get worried and sometimes horrified when looking at pictures of younger girls, even toddlers wearing carefully put-together outfits and photographed as if they are professional models, shared on social media. I am disturbed thinking about what beauty standards this will teach my child. In recent years body, positivity/neutrality, and confidence have become popular terms that we are all familiar with and striving toward. But at the same time, I see filtered, photoshopped pictures of flawless skin and perfect skinny bodies everywhere on social media - and yes, even kids! This double standard within our society especially online makes beauty standards and our relationship with ourselves even more complicated and harder to navigate, and I believe this significantly influences our kids and teens.
It is not only limited to physical beauty aspects or ideas of how the “perfect” body “should” look like. The momagers are teaching their kids to define their self-worth by the number of likes and comments on their most recent post. By posting images of their kids online, they are modeling a mindset where validation comes from strangers online.
I believe it is a parent's responsibility to establish a healthy role model because when kids are developing physically, socially, and emotionally, they are more prone to seeking social validation. As they are still forming, they may be especially inclined to take social media feedback to heart and work hard for others approval.
But through social media, they will be conditioned to see themselves through someone's else perceived image. If we consider how big of an influence social media has had on our self-image, then imagine what an influence these platforms can have if you grow up with them and exist on them since birth. I am still trying to imagine what positive outcomes should come from that, but I can easily create a lengthy list of negative impacts this might have on the young generations.
I make a conscious effort not to sharent I have set a strict boundary and I do not share personal details of my daughter's life on social media. There are very few pictures of her on my social media account, because to me, all those memories are for myself, not for the whole world to see!
I want to make sure I create the smallest digital footprint possible for my kid. It's not my right to create a digital identity for her; it's her choice whether she wants that or not.
When it comes to my child, I can not trust anyone. What baffles me about the rising phenomena of child influencers, is how the parents deliberately subject their kids to public scrutiny, unfair criticism, and online bullying.
It is like all the momagers out there are living their lost influencer dream through their kids, intentionally or unintentionally. That is messed up.
The phenomena overall are just bizarre to me. Besides those who turn their 4-year-old into a mini Instagram model, everyone else who shares digital documentation of their children, is contributing to the idea that showing off the highlights of our lives with whoever might be watching our feeds, is a necessity. That social media is toxic and have a negative impact on mental health is indisputable at this point. Why any parent would continue to impose using social media on their children is beyond me, and I am disappointed to not see the opposite trend: teaching your kids to have a healthy relationship with social media.