Sharenting: Solving the Problem of Parents and Kids on Instagram

Original Article Here – Growing Leaders is a great resource for Parents of Gen Z students!

By: Tim Elmore

It all started when April, Christine’s youngest daughter, was five years old. Christine knew April would be their family’s last baby and wanted to document each milestone and comical moment of her childhood. By the time she was ten, April was avoiding photo ops; shying away from the camera. By 13, when she had a phone of her own, April witnessed on social media just how much mom had posted on both Facebook and Instagram. She felt violated.

Eventually, as a teen, April requested her mom stop sharing photos of her. It was embarrassing and drew sarcasm from her friends. Christine, of course, was surprised. “But this is what everyone does, isn’t it, sweetheart?” she asked. “You post pictures, too. Why wouldn’t you want your mother to do the same?”

This is a scenario that happens millions of times every year.

Sharenting is Parents Sharing Too Much on Social Media

What happens when the heartfelt ambitions of parenthood meet the ubiquitous opportunities of social media? That’s the subject of “Sharenthood: Why We Should Think Before We Talk About Our Kids Online,” a new book by Leah Plunkett. Plunkett argues that “sharenting” happens any time an adult in charge of a child’s well-being, such as a parent or a teacher, transmits private details about a child via digital channels. The problem, of course, is that even though we may be the parent or guardian, kids are human. They’re vulnerable, and they know that a picture posted is now “out there” for anyone to see at any time in the future. The debate over “sharenting” remains: is it a right or is it a request we make of our kids?

Don’t think this is a big deal? Check out this statistic:

“Studies estimate that by 2030 nearly two-thirds of identity-fraud cases affecting today’s children will have resulted from sharenting.”

When moms and dads post information, they’re often not thinking long term. They’re simply thinking about the responses they’ll get online. But short-term thinking almost always costs someone in the form of unintended consequences.

Neighbors of mine tell me their kids (both teens and young adults) have all but vetoed any sharing of facts or photos that include them without consent. Ironically, one 19-year-old, Seth, reminded his mother that she had discussed “digital citizenship” with him when he was in high school. Now, it was time for her to learn the lesson as well. Managing what we “sharent” is the adult version of being good digital citizens. 

The Potential Price Tag

Indulge me to offer some costs to sharenting that we may not have considered:

  1. Stalkers may pick up details on your children, and manipulate them later.
  2. Your kids may develop an unintentional distrust in your judgement as a parent. 
  3. It can lead to identity fraud and the distribution of information among strangers.
  4. It may cause your teenager to withhold information from you. 
  5. Sharenting exposes children to the larger digital world without their consent, robbing them of a kind of agency. 

According to Plunkett, “The underlying problem with sharenting is the same with many adult-world surveillance and privacy issues: the bargain we have made in exchange for these services is that we surrender our data and choose not to imagine the worst-case scenarios. Not only that, it removes your child’s choice to never be on social media.” 

More and more students are choosing this route. They see the downside. 

In my opinion, too many of us are posting our life instead of living our life. Too much time and energy is spent on spinning our story on social media sites to appear happy, wealthy, or beautiful and it costs our loved ones’ reputation. 

Practical Guidelines We  Can Follow

  • Step into their shoes. Consider how you’ve felt when someone posted a picture with you in it and you hated the way you looked or the way it fueled a wrong narrative. Did you want to take it down? Ditto. 
  • Ask yourself: Do you really need to post that pic? Think long term and realize that you can take all the photos you want but you don’t have to post them. Just keep them on our phone or in a digital file for later.
  • Play the long game. Consider the unintended consequences of posting. Will it alienate your children or students? Could you lose more than you gain? The further out you can see, the better the decision you’ll make today for your kids.
  • Think impulse control. Allow the idea of posting your kid’s photo to move from your limbic system (where you feel) to your cortex (where you think). Consider all the potential consequences of the post and manage your impulses.

Have you heard of “DaddyOFive,” a popular YouTube channel from 2015 to 2017, run by a couple named Michael and Heather Martin? They drew hundreds of thousands of viewers by posting videos of their parenting mishaps and their children’s foibles as they grew up. It all seemed innocent, until they were arrested on charges that it was damaging their kids.

A psychologist in the trial found that two of the children, who were nine and eleven at the time, had experienced “observable, identifiable, and substantial impairments of their mental or psychological ability to function.” Michael and Heather are serving five years of probation and the channel was deleted. The Martins’ attorney assured the court that the couple would become more “careful” with their children and social media.

Here is my question. Why don’t we care more about developing our students than documenting them?

OAKWOOD VBS SERVE OPPORTUNITY

CALLING ALL STUDENTS AND PARENTS!!!!!!

Monday, July 26, 2021, 9:00 AM – Friday, July 30, 2021, 12:00 PM

WE NEED YOUR HELP!!!!!!

We need Crew Leaders to help lead children to their various stations each day.

We need Outdoor Games leaders to help Pastor B bring the energy outside during Recreation Time.

We need your prayers as Oakwood invests all our creative energy to provide a place for children to hear about the love of JESUS each day.

RESPECT – 2KINGS 2:23-24

When you throw around ideas in a meeting to find a THEME something like… BELIEVE WEEKEND… other ideas swim through your head as well!

Don’t worry, we are not asking GOD to bring any SHE-BEARS to Believe Weekend. Our intention is to challenge students to BEAR FRUIT. A completely DIFFERENT MESSAGE than this one!

However, if you are a parent in sudden need of a quick lesson on RESPECT, this IS IN THE BIBLE.

‘He went up from there to Bethel, and while he was going up on the way, some small boys came out of the city and jeered at him, saying, “Go up, you baldhead! Go up, you baldhead!” And he turned around, and when he saw them, he cursed them in the name of the Lord . And two she-bears came out of the woods and tore forty-two of the boys. From there he went on to Mount Carmel, and from there he returned to Samaria.’ 2 Kings 2:23-25

Can You Hear Me Now?

CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?

Okay, so the Verizon guy… wait the Sprint guy… whoever he is with, gave us a simple phrase that sticks out in my mind all the time. Our family totally changed services here in New Braunfels in order to HEAR ONE ANOTHER. From where we live currently to where we go out and about, we continuously found certain areas where our calls were dropped. Then, as we moved out of the “dead spot” we magically connected again. Needless to say, we made a move TO BE HEARD.

As we are looking at PRAYER or CONNECTING WITH GOD as a church, our Middle Schoolers are going back to the basics of what it means to connect with God.

That same question, “CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?” seems to come up as we focus on prayer as well.

The BEST example we have is JESUS HIMSELF, as he preaches His first (and need I say LONGEST) sermon that cuts to our hearts, even today. In this Sermon, presented on a mountain, he directs His people to think about the “WHY” when it comes to prayer.

“Don’t be like the hypocrites, for they love standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full” (Matthew 6:5 NIV).

 “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then, your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you”  (Matthew 6:6 NIV).

WHAT IS THE REWARD?

When we create a space and a place to CALL ON the Lord, we get more than an instant download code for 20% off on a flash sale. When we make time to focus on the person of JESUS and call out to HIM, we get more than three wishes for all our dreams to come true. Our REWARD is far greater than a “good day” or a material possession.

OUR REWARD IS A DEEP RELATIONSHIP WITH JESUS.

Isn’t that what our hearts truly call out for? I believe we are moved to choose a payment plan and upgrade to a new cell phone because we value the close relationships in our lives. We desire to connect with others on a deeper level, and we want to guarantee a secure connection.

How does the value with our Father translate to our daily lives?

I believe that an intentional TIME and PLACE builds a foundation for a deep encounter with the God of the Universe through Jesus Christ. How have you created an intentional time and place this week to connect? How have you seen the ultimate reward work out in your own daily walk with Jesus?

Tonight is the NIGHT – OAKWOODMS CHRISTMSAS MOVIE NIGHT @ STARS AND STRIPES

Oakwood Middle School Family Movie Night @ Stars & Stripes Drive-In Theatre.

All Middle School Families are invited to this FREE EVENT for a night of laughs and celebration to start off the Christmas Season. 
MOVIE NIGHT SIGN UP LINK 

Movie Time 7pm – Running TIme 1hr 37min

WE HAVE PLENTLY OF ROOM FOR YOU AND YOUR FAMILY AND YOUR FRIENDS AND SOME OTHER PEOPLE!!!! 
Watch in the comfort of your car, bring some lawn chairs to sit up front, bring your own food or buy at the concession stand.

DARE 2 SHARE – You Can’t Quarantine the Gospel

TAKE THE PRAYER AND CARE DARE

Download the Life in 6 Words App

For the next 2 weeks we are talking about three things on Wednesday Nights – PRAYER, CARE, & SHARE.

Greg Stier with DARE 2 SHARE encourages us to reach out to those around us during this pandemic by starting with PRAYER. Are there any people that come to your mind in your circle of influence that need hear the GOSPEL?

The DARE is to think of 3 names, download the app, enter them into the CAUSE CIRCLE and start with prayer.

Click on the Small Group Guide Below for more details or watch Greg Stier’s first video of his “YOU CAN’T QUARANTINE THE GOSPEL” series.

The Life in 6 Words App is an excellent tool to help your Middle Schooler think about SHARING the GOSPEL to their friends. It also provides amazing videos, helps you create a digital GOSPEL story, and connects you with others taking the same steps.

The Secret Weapon to Handling Mental Health Issues

Check Out Growing Leaders Here

I saw something last week that absolutely fascinated me. I don’t know if I would have believed it had I not seen it. Four university students were in the parking lot at our local grocery store just north of Atlanta. I heard them talking about how nervous they were about going inside to shop and how anxious they were about their future prospects. They all returned home early from their college campuses, three would not get an in-person graduation ceremony, and all of their job plans had evaporated.

The conversation shifted when one of the students said, “Maybe we need to get our minds off our own problems.” There was a pause. Then she continued, “I’m going to look for the next person I see in this parking lot who looks like they need help, and I’m going to help them.”

Moments later, the magic happened. 

An elderly couple drove slowly into a parking spot and sat in their car with the engine running. She approached the driver and said, “Are you OK? Do you need anything?” The driver, a man in his 80s, replied, “You must be an angel. My wife and I are terrified to go into the supermarket to shop. Could you help us?”

The young lady smiled and said, “Of course! Give me your list, and you stay right here.” The man handed her a hundred dollar bill and his shopping list, and she was off to serve as a personal shopper. 

As I watched, I eventually realized both sides had just won.

The Best Part of the Story

In essence, this young woman was saying, “I think the secret to beating my anxiety is to get busy helping other people.” I think she’s right. I am certainly not claiming that this is a comprehensive remedy for all anxiety or mental health issues. There is a place for counseling, management, and even medication at times. But so much of our anxiety during this COVID-19 pandemic stems from the fact that we’re isolated in our homes, watching the news, and feeling very uncertain about our futures. We’re consumed with “me.”

Greta Thunberg is another example. While I recognize she’s a controversial teen from Sweden, protesting climate change, she has openly admitted that she’s struggled with depression in the past. She acknowledged, however, that getting involved in her cause has helped her beat that depression. Service and involvement are saving her.

My own son made this discovery as a young man. He had his own battle with depressive moods yet told me one day, “I have much better days when I lose myself in using my gifts to serve others. What I focus on can make me or break me.”

Bingo.

Using This Secret Weapon

Especially during this season of self-quarantine, what if we all discovered this “secret weapon” and used it. It is crucial during times of uncertainty to focus on something outside of ourselves and invest our time and energy in the service of others. It’s what our world celebrates on TV these days as we cheer on medical staff and first responders, people serving on the front lines of this battle with COVID-19. So, here’s the secret:

  • Find something or someone you care about.
  • Discover if there is a need to be met or a problem to be solved. 
  • Determine what resources you have to offer.
  • Begin small and start focusing on meeting that need.
  • Watch to see if it morphs into something bigger. 
  • Enjoy the endorphins, those happy chemicals inside you, as you serve.

My wife and I have made our own fresh discovery of this simple, secret weapon. We’ve been able to find places to donate funds; she has found neighbors for whom she can deliver groceries, and we have called people we haven’t spoken to in years to check up on them and encourage them. This secret weapon should not be a secret.