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Yes, there are definite negatives to oversharing your children’s personal info and photos, but there are also undeniable positives to pouring your heart out to the world. Indeed, sharenting can involve seeking advice, discussing parenting topics, relating experiences, sharing resources, garnering emotional support and more.
“Sharenting is also about community,” adds Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson, aka the voice behind the blog Seattle Mama Doc and Seattle Children’s Hospital’s Chief of Digital Innovation. She tells Parentology, “It’s a beautiful way to express the joy we feel about our children and introduce them to their greater community.”
The Importance of Community for Parents
Swanson references a study done at CS Mott Children’s Hospital at the University of Michigan that found many parents felt less alone, and garnered support from their communities when sharenting issues related to discipline, sleep, and eating. “An online community can contribute our understanding of what’s best when raising children.”
Some Stats from the Study:
- 84% of mothers and 70% of fathers report using social media and online forums.
- 56% of mothers and 34% of fathers discuss child health and parenting topics on social media. Common topics discussed: getting kids to sleep (28%), nutrition/eating tips (26%), discipline (19%), daycare/preschool (17%), and behavior problems (13%).
- 72% of parents rate social media useful for making them not feel alone.
- 70% of parents learn what not to do via social media.
- 67% share photos of their children.
The above data reveals the growing importance of social media and forums in the parenting process.
While this data points to definite positives of sharing, Swanson notes there’s a potential downside: “Because so many parents are heavily engaged with social media, some may feel a sense of competition or feel bad about their own struggles or challenges in the face of living up to the images others share. Every family has ugly, messy, unhappy days, and these aren’t always shared online, so a distortion can be created.”
When Sharenting Is Healing — and Even a Lifeline
Jamilah Lemieux has been sharing her life experiences since 2007 on MySpace, Blogger, Facebook and Twitter.
“I’ve built a cybervillage of (beloved) strangers across the globe who’ve been cheering me on for the majority of my adult life,” Lemieux told WIRED. “Sharing my motherhood journey with them felt second nature.”
When Lemieux became pregnant and broke up with her partner, this community held even more importance. “In the absence of a traditional (marriage) partner, the internet became my second co-parent, with my cybervillage providing affirmation, emotional support, encouragement, and a place to talk about my child at length with people who seemed to find her as delightful as I did.”
Whenever things got tough, stressful or frustrating, Lemieux’s online community has buoyed her up and cheered her on. “There’s always been a chorus of voices there to tell me, ‘You’re doing great, you got this.'”
Lemieux serves as a prime example of moms seeking community to get through the trials and tribulations of raising kids. “[Sharing] healed my broken heart and brought me something I needed so desperately.”
What Should Be the Goal of Sharenting?
According to Swanson, while accepting we need connection and understanding to thrive, it’s also imperative to be completely aware of what we’re sharing and how it impacts our children.
“Our goals as parents should be to deeply enjoy parenthood, share the love we have for our children, and seek support and knowledge when online,” says Swanson. “If feelings of insecurity or sadness develop when sharing, I’d say take a second look at being there altogether.”
Thinking about creating a Mom tribe? You should definitely check this article out.