Sharenting: what is it and what are the dangers of sharing photos of children on social networks

At least 30% of parents share a photo or video of their children on social networks every day. This is a very high percentage, which is increasing, and which makes us consider the risks that this practice may have for the minors themselves.

Grooming is a practice by which an adult pretends to be a minor on the Internet with unlawful intentions

So much so, that this common practice already has its own name: sharenting. With this word, of Anglo-Saxon origin, it is defined by sharing photos or videos on social networks of our children -or nephews, or children of friends- on a daily basis or during special periods such as vacations, carnivals, school parties, etc.

It is an action that parents -or relatives- carry out without much intention, unconsciously, and that they may not have stopped to think that it could have negative consequences for minors and even put them in danger. Overexposing minors on social networks, also without the minor’s permission, can put them at certain risks:

-grooming: With this word of English origin, grooming, is called the action of an adult, who through social networks, pretends to be another minor to win the trust of the child. By accessing the photos and videos posted by your parents, you can access information about your place of residence, your tastes, the name of your pet… With this information, you can start a conversation both in person and through social networks with the minor and gain his trust with unclear intentions.

-Cyber ​​bullying: The information that is exposed about minors on social networks can lead people with unlawful intentions to contact them to extort or harass them.

-Fingerprint: It is important to be aware that any photograph or video of the children that is published publicly on the Internet builds the digital footprint of the minors. These also have not given permission for its publication, and they could feel violated when as teenagers they see that information about them that they did not want has been shared. This information posted about minors could also harm them in their work environments or with their friends in the future.

How to avoid the dangers of Sharenting

First of all, awareness is essential. Being aware of the risks that exposing minors on social networks can entail will allow parents to think twice about the content they are going to publish about their children. It does not mean that nothing is published -although it is the safest option to prevent access to information about minors- but at least it will be done consciously.

Using a closed profile, to which only people who really know each other have access, means taking additional control of who can access the content that is published on social networks. In this sense, you should not accept as a follower any person about whom you do not have full confidence.

It is estimated that more than 10% of parents have fully public profiles on social networks such as Instagram or Facebook. In the latter, more than 45% allow the images of the children to be seen by all their contacts.

Uploading content anonymously, without offering geolocation data, tagging possible profiles of minors, etc., would also be recommended, as well as reviewing the privacy of any publication.

Properly using passwords to access different online programs and services will make it more difficult for anyone to access information about minors. In the same way, using antivirus will prevent improper access to our computers.

It should be noted that the image of any minor – like that of another person – is personal data and allows him to be identified. That is why it is protected information, as stated in article 3 of the Data Protection Law. Their parents or legal guardians are responsible for ensuring this right.