BABY ON BOARD LIFE Midweek Musings

Midweek Musings: Sharenting

sharenting-lifebylotte

But but but LOOK it’s her FIRST HAIRCLIP

Before I had a baby, I used to roll my eyes a bit (OK, quite a lot) at people who endlessly shared pics of their children on social media. I mean, everyone loves to see pictures of newborns and there’s nothing nicer than congratulating someone who’s just pushed a small person out of their bits. But the endless pictures clogging up my FB feed of kids in fancy dress, on their first day at school, eating a piece of toast etc etc did get a bit tiresome. For the uninitiated, the media calls this ‘sharenting’ – smug journos do love a portmanteau.

I always swore I’d never be like that if I had a baby.

HA HA HA.

When Daph was first born, Oli and I had a Very Serious Discussion about whether or not we would upload pictures of her to Facebook etc. We both agreed that we’d rather not (Oli is ridiculously private about everything which is quite tricky when you’re a singer with fans – he gets some lovely emails from folk who always want to know more about him). But then when she was first born, obviously I blogged about it (given that I blogged throughout pregnancy it would have been a bit weird not to), and then put up an album on FB because – genuinely! – people asked to see pics (it’s only for friends and family right, so allowed?) and then before I knew it I was non-stop Instagramming her.

Because to me, of course, she’s the most beautiful baby that ever lived and I find so much pleasure in taking and looking at pics of her that I just want to share this pleasure with the world. The fact that the world does not feel the same way about her as I do does not really compute. It’s like a weird compulsion. And Oli, private though he is, is also her adoring parent and so when I put up pics of her on Instagram and show him, he smiles his mushy smile and we both bask in a wave of oxytocin, our first conversation long forgotten.

But I do realise now that I’ve started to sharent. My god, I even blog about her. Although I really hope blogging is slightly different as I hope that my posts about baby-related things actually help mothers in similar situations. They’re less about showing off and more about solidarity. And also, a way for me to look back on this time and remember stuff that I will inevitably have forgotten. At least, that’s my intention.

I read an article this weekend about how kids these days have a digital footprint before the age of one, and it really got me thinking. Am I invading Daph’s privacy by plastering her all over the internet before she’s old enough to consent? Am I behaving as though I ‘own’ her? Is it actually really selfish? But then again, seeing as most people do it is it actually no big deal? Considering some parents make a living vlogging about their babies is what I’m doing relatively insignificant? Will babies whose parents didn’t put up images of them online grow up feeling insecure and unloved? I am so in two minds. I have never pinned pics of her because the idea of someone repinning pictures of my baby creeps me out, but then again anyone can pin them from this blog should they wish (please don’t!). I started watermarking some images of her before uploading them but then got lazy. I thought about doing that thing of only shooting her from behind or out of focus but… but… but… that means you don’t get to see HER BEAUTIFUL FACE! I also thought maybe I’d just stick to only putting photos of her on FB and not on Instagram but then I might as well delete my Insta account because let’s be honest, I have a baby under one, my whole life at the moment revolves around her.

It’s a conundrum. I wish I could ask Daph want she thinks and it’s frustrating that the generation of babies whose parents have been oversharing them since they were just an ultrasound picture aren’t quite old enough yet to let us know how they feel about it. I take some solace in the fact that I can delete the pics I have put up of her at any time – I’ve never used images of her in a professional capacity.

I would LOVE to know your thoughts on this topic – please leave me a comment if you’re a parent and let me know what you’ve decided to do and why. For now, Oli and I have tentatively agreed to stop posting images of her (at least on public sites such as my blog and Instagram) once she turns one. I’m not sure why but it feels like a good cut off – after this point she’s no longer a baby (sniff) and more her own person. I just hope I have the willpower…

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12 Comments

  • Reply
    Helen
    May 11, 2016 at 12:40 pm

    It’s something I struggled with, sometimes if I’m feeling mushy and cautious at the same time I attempt an “arty” feet or hands shot. I don’t want his life played out on social media but I, for one, love seeing people’s baby updates.
    And I’ve really enjoyed your blog in the run up to having my son, and since! It’s been so reassuring reading about real baby and Mum hood. X

    • Charlotte Duckworth
      Reply
      Charlotte Duckworth
      May 11, 2016 at 2:48 pm

      Ah thank you! I really like other mum blogs too – it helps not to feel alone! x

  • Reply
    Becky
    May 11, 2016 at 6:39 pm

    Hmm I have never been sure about this either. I don’t post a lot of pics of S because I do feel it’s all gone a bit far these days. Weirdly I kind of feel the opposite to you in that I feel more comfortable doing it now she’s a bit older, but can’t really articulate why that is. Know what you mean about Instagram – I have never thought about the fact that it is less private, naively. Might give that one a rest…

    • Charlotte Duckworth
      Reply
      Charlotte Duckworth
      May 11, 2016 at 7:05 pm

      Well it IS better now she’s older because you can ask her whether she wants to have her picture up or not… I know she might not totally understand the implications but at least she can consent – unlike a toddler who has no idea what’s going on.

      Instagram is so tricky because I love looking at pictures of kids but it’s SO public. :/

  • Reply
    Lekki
    May 11, 2016 at 7:13 pm

    Aw, I am sad you will stop sharing pictures of daph – she brightens my day! You know that I am definitely a sharenter. I can’t help it. And although I wanted to give my older one a little bit of privacy, I equally didn’t want to stop posting pictures of him just as his sister came along – seemed mean. I thought about privacy issues a lot, and ended up falling on the side of “I’m preparing my kiddo for the future”. I think a digital footprint is just going to become a fact for everyone. As for ‘friends’ on fb, I am fully OK with them using the ‘unfollow’ button. That being said, I mind what I post. I try to think ‘if someone found this in 12th Grade, what would my kid think?”. So not potty stories!

    Now I just need time to blog again :-/

    One option on facebook is to create a closed group for your LO, and upload pictures there. It’s private and saves others’ newsfeeds.

    • Charlotte Duckworth
      Reply
      Charlotte Duckworth
      May 12, 2016 at 4:35 pm

      Yes I am not a private person at all (obviously, hence this blog!) so I find it hard to be private about Daph when I think it’s inevitable that pics of her will end up online in some capacity. I doubt I will stop sharing completely – it doesn’t feel me – but I might just have to think of a way of toning it down slightly, so that by the time she’s four there aren’t 60,879 images of her online, which is definitely possible if the number of pics of her on my phone are anything to go by 😉

  • Reply
    Stacey
    May 12, 2016 at 12:01 am

    I read a similar article when I was pregnant with Matylda. I’d not even considered whether or not I’d post anything about her on social media at that point. I had already decided not to post a pregnancy announcement or a scan picture. I figured if I wouldn’t feel the need to tell certain people about my pregnancy in real life why tell them on Facebook. After reading the article I was well and truly convinced that I didn’t want to share any pictures of my children on social media. It’s just so public. And I really don’t understand facebook’s privacy settings enough to ensure that only my nearest and dearest will see the photos. But privacy aside, it’s really more the digital footprint issue that disturbs me. I want my girls to be fully in control of the way the world sees them. I want them to be the ones creating their own profiles. Why should I be the one to decide how they are portrayed to the world? To me that does seems like an invasion of their privacy. I must say though many of my friends find it weird that I don’t share any photos on Facebook or Instagram. But that’s not to say I don’t share photos of the girls because I do. I just use a private site called Lifecake and only invite my very closest relatives and friends to access my photos and stories about the girls.
    I think the difficulty comes when you are a parent blogger. Like you mentioned it helps you feel connected to share what you are going through and I completely understand that. For me the child seems secondary when I read parent blogs. I’m reading them to hear the experiences of the parent, not the child. So in a way blogs seem less invasive to me than Facebook. I’m not sure that even makes sense but it’s how I see it.

    • Charlotte Duckworth
      Reply
      Charlotte Duckworth
      May 12, 2016 at 4:32 pm

      No I do know what you mean Stacey about the blog versus FB thing – maybe because the blog is more informative and less just ‘look, pictures of my baby!’.

      • Reply
        Justine
        May 12, 2016 at 10:17 pm

        I’m in Stacey’s camp on this one… I have one maybe two pictures of Rory online. I know it is inevitable that he will get an online profile but I don’t want to start it now. I’m sure many of my so called friends will find it odd but I send pictures and keep updating people i know want to see him and care about him.

        I think its different in ur situation… you have a blog and a following of people who do want to know and do care about seeing Daphne… I am one of them!

        Xxx

        • Charlotte Duckworth
          Reply
          Charlotte Duckworth
          May 12, 2016 at 10:25 pm

          Aw thanks Justine! Luckily Poph has shown me lots of pics of Rory 😉 he’s so cute! xx

  • Reply
    Rob Sims
    May 12, 2016 at 2:06 am

    Hey Charlotte,

    A fair few of our friends don’t have kids, and even if they did so I’m concious not to spam photos at every opportunity because I remember how it was before Oscar came along. Even now, as a father, I’m still not actually that interested in seeing 20 photos of someone else’s kid, unless the photos are really special; I.e. little JonnyX making a moderate mess at lunchtime.

    Saying that, I am interested to see the occasional family photo, to see that my friends are all doing fine, and a quick status check to see how the little ones have grown (this may also have something to do with living far from home) and find it sad when some friends social media feeds go dead after baby comes along – even if I respect their decision.

    So we share the bulk of our photos and videos privately just with the extended family. Something every few days. We’re all Appled up so use the iCloud photo sharing thing, but if your family is more brand diverse then there are other services you can use (eg. Flickr with privacy options, Facebook recently launched a service, Google drive… Etc.). I do post occasional photos of Oscar for Facebook, but mainly when it’s some kind of event or social gathering (social media was originally intended to supplement real life social gatherings, rather than replace it right?). I’m always careful to ask the parents of other kids in the photos first if they object to their kid (no matter how background blurred) appearing in the photos!

    As with all things, it’s just finding a balance, and that doesn’t mean we get it right all the time. Hope you find the balance you’re after Lotte 😉

    • Charlotte Duckworth
      Reply
      Charlotte Duckworth
      May 12, 2016 at 4:30 pm

      Thanks for this post Rob – really interesting and very balanced. I never even thought about uploading pics of other people’s kids – that’s another consideration!

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