“Sharenting” Is a Threat to Children’s Health and Personal Development

Parents who endlessly post on Facebook, Instagram, and other social media sites are risking their children’s safety and robbing them of creating their own stories

Michele DeMarco, PhD
OneZero
Published in
4 min readAug 31, 2021

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Mother holding a baby and taking a photo of them both.
Photo: The Conversation

Austin never got to choose not to be on the internet.

Beginning with annals of his parents’ previous attempts at conception, through two rounds of IVF, a photo of the plastic stick that finally held “two pink lines,” and the real-time video of them receiving the sonogram, even before he had inhaled his first breath, Austin’s story was already being written for him.

Eleven years on, the saga continues: harrowing tales of learning to walk and #poopingonthepotty; the time a bout of diarrhea and his mother’s Facebook friends’ cure-all advise went viral; a video of getting ready for his first school dance and later getting rejected by a first crush at the park; a report card littered with emojis and “ALL Bs!”; a holy-hell post by his father about the politics and unfair treatment of Austin’s little league tryouts. Once Austin begged to have what he considered to be an unflattering photo of him eating birthday cake deleted from his mother’s Instagram page, but when he told her he hated it, she replied, “No sweetie, it’s cute.”

The relationship between child mortification and parental pride is well-established. Few would argue that there is something wrong — and everything natural — about a parent wanting to share some of the joys, even sorrows or challenges, of their children’s lives with their intimate circle. But with social media redefining the nature intimacy, that line isn’t so clear. What might have been, pre-Facebook, sharing with a few people at the office, now could include an audience of 500, 5000, 50,000, or more.

“What happens when the slow telos of parenthood meets the insatiable rhythms of social media?” Hua Hsu asked in a piece he wrote for The New Yorker. The subject is the book Sharenthood: Why We Should Think Before We Talk About Our Kids Online by Leah Plunkett, an associate professor at the University of New Hampshire Law School and a faculty associate at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society, at Harvard…

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Michele DeMarco, PhD
OneZero

Award-winning writer, therapist, clinical ethicist, and researcher specializing in moral injury. I talk about the stuff many won’t. micheledemarco.com