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By Ashley Corbaley

Take a picture, ask questions later. That is how many parents in the world are doing it these days. From potty training mishaps to awkward first dates, parents are taking pictures and videos of it all and then posting it on their social media.

In the days before Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, embarrassing pictures were taken and tucked away in photo albums only to be drawn out at family gatherings. Several of us are undoubtedly familiar with the humiliation that comes from seeing those pictures resurface. However, those pictures were only viewed by a handful of people. Today, with the advent of cameras on phones and various social media outlets, these pictures and videos of awkward growing up years are seen by hundreds of people — and they never go away.

Children of today are growing up in what is called a ‘digital shadow’- a time capsule of moments posted for the world to see. A harmless and cute picture or video of the past posted on a parent’s social media account can really damage a teenager’s self image and be damaging to the parent-child relationship. Recent studies have begun to question this growing number of young children and teens that have been raised with parents on various social media platforms. The question is asked “Where and when does a parent’s right to share end online?” How much personal information are parents allowed to share, and how does it affect the child’s relationship with their parent? Surprisingly, or maybe not, most children of “sharenting” parents agreed that what was shared was embarrassing and they would have preferred to keep private.

Beyond the parent-child relationship being damaged, there is also the very real threat of identity theft for these young children. As more personal information is shared, predators and con artists obtain more of the information necessary to do lasting damage to credit scores, financial records, and futures of children who are barely old enough to tie their own shoes. Precautions must be made to keep this information safeguarded in a world where digital records are accessed with incredible ease.

The important thing is for parents and children to communicate before posting certain things. Establish rules that you both must follow. It is important to know your child and to know what might make them uncomfortable if you share it with the world. It is important to recognize how what you share will affect them in the future. And after all what is more important, the amount of likes or followers you have on social media, or the relationship with the members of your family?

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