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‘Sharenting’ offers benefits for parents, safety concerns for children

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — There’s a new social media term on the rise. It’s ‘sharenting’ and it refers to the over-sharing done by parents online. A new study reveals some scary issues with posting too often, but also points out some clear benefits for parents.

Cassie Zeider is an Indianapolis mom and an admitted social media addict.

“There is some filtering, but not a lot,” Zeider said at Broad Ripple Park.

She often posts pictures of her one-year-old daughter Elliana.

“We want people to love our child and the more people that love our child, the better we feel and the more community she’s going to have,” Zeider said.

The life of ‘sharenting’ has been smooth-sailing for Zeider so far, but just this month, a Utah mother found her child’s pictures scattered on child porn websites.

“I seriously feel like the worst mom having put these on there and seeing what happened,” Brittany Champagne said.

Her daughter was the victim of what some are calling digital kidnapping.

“I can’t imagine how my kids would feel. I feel beyond violated, so I can’t imagine how they would feel,” Champagne said.

It’s a worst case scenario, but experts say there are some benefits to sharenting.

“It does take a village. It does take a whole group of people to raise children,” Julie Szempruch said, a leader at Eskenazi Midtown Mental Health Center.

Szempruch said parents feel less alone when they use social media to work through parenting issues. Researchers who conducted a sharenting study out of the University of Michigan agree with her.

“Understanding the benefit of having support is so critical and in today’s world that’s really the only way we get it,” Szempruch said.

Parents post about a lot of topics online, but researchers say these topics get the most attention.

  • Getting kids to sleep (28 percent)
  • Nutrition and eating tips (26 percent)
  • Discipline (19 percent)
  • Daycare/preschool (17 percent)
  • Behavior problems (13 percent).

Zeider said she relies on moms groups on Facebook often.

“3 a.m. in the morning when your kid’s sick. What are you going to do? Post on Facebook. That’s what you do, that’s this time in society,” Zeider said.

So if you’re just seeking advice, experts say there’s not a lot to worry about. Pictures need more consideration. IMPD said parents should think twice before clicking post when you’re child is celebrating milestones. A birthday posts gives cyber-criminals your child’s date of birth. Also, check for anything that might identify your exact location, like notable landmarks, address numbers or mail in the back ground of pictures.

Police pointers that Zeider says adds some perspective to her posting practices.

“I guess I wasn’t as aware of it, because I just post everything and I’m pretty public on Facebook, so it made me think about it a little bit,” Zeider said.

Experts say it’s that thought, that can make a big difference when considering what you provide to the public in the digital world.