The Problem with Parents Who Overuse Social Media

A new survey shows that some parents are crossing the line between sharing and oversharing.

By Samantha Zabell

Before, photos of children filled private photo albums at home; now, those snapshots fill social media feeds before the kids are old enough to have their own accounts. “Sharenting,” a term coined by researchers at the University of Michigan to describe parents who crowdsource advice and post photos of their children via social media, has made the lives of young children very public. A new survey from the University’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital investigated this new parenting trend in its National Poll on Children’s Health: Researchers found that some parents worry about their oversharing counterparts.


Three-quarters of parents surveyed said they knew another parent who “oversharented” on social media, posting inappropriate photos or embarrassing stories of their child. What concerned respondents most was the idea that a stranger might learn private information or repurpose their child’s photo.

“There’s potential for the line between sharing and oversharing to get blurred,” researcher Sarah J. Clark, M.P.H. said in a statement. “Parents may share information that their child finds embarrassing or too personal when they’re older but once it’s out there, it’s hard to undo. The child won’t have much control over where it ends up or who sees it.”

Despite these fears, 72 percent of parents say the online community makes them feel less alone. Almost 70 percent of respondents used social media to get advice from other parents and more than half said it eased stress and worry. What kind of advice and reinforcement are parents looking for? Approximately 28 percent are looking for tips on getting their children to sleep, 26 percent are seeking nutritional information, and 19 percent are asking for guidance on disciplining their kids.

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