To Sharent Or Not To Sharent? Should You Put Your Kids’ Faces Online?

As Rochelle and Marvin Humes post photos of their kids online for the first time to 1.6 million followers, Anna Whitehouse (aka Instagram star and campaigner Mother Pukka) asks if sharing really is caring

Rochelle and Marvin Humes

by Anna Whitehouse |
Updated on

This week Rochelle and Marvin Humes posted photos of their kids, Alaia and Valentina, online to 1.6 million followers. This isn’t a huge deal in the world of oversharing and 'sharenting' – sharing photos of your kids online.

But myself – and the world – had never clapped eyes on her kids before and while it was fairly magical to see a Rochelle/ Marvin hybrid, is it their decision to make?

I have posted photos of my kids in the past to my audience of 241,000. In terms of cracking open a discussion on child online safety and consent, I’m not coming to the digital party from a position of strength. It’s on par with The Cookie Monster analysing the negative impact of sugar in our diets.

But a year ago I stopped posting images of their faces. Ironically, I followed Rochelle and Marvin’s example of just showing them from behind. There was a hint of them online but it was never an identifying hint.

But this process has not been watertight and our daughters' names are known, so we’ve started using emojis to represent them (to eradicate any searchable terms) or, rather perfunctorily, ‘my eldest’ and ‘my youngest’. This is not a ‘you should do this exercise’; more a ‘this is where we are at’ gathering of words.

Because I think shaming mothers for sharing photos of their children is not the answer, either.

I believe we are all guinea pigs in this pixelated world that has been described as the ‘Wild West’; a place where the surface is seemingly peony-embellished and the underbelly a murky wasteland of uncertainty, confusion and muddy digital footprints.

Regardless of whether you privately have 32 followers or publicly have 320,000, Sonia Livingstone, professor of social psychology at the London School of Economics, and an expert on children and the Internet, urges us to take a moment to consider the nature of what we are about to foghorn to the world. ‘I think we should start with the question of cost,’ she says. ‘If you post a picture of your child in a temper tantrum, perhaps that will have a future cost. It’s not all pictures, but certain pictures that are problematic.’

That cost of calling your child a ‘twat’ for not eating their broccoli, perhaps, or detailing the contents of their nappy for the world to laugh at. Or, on a less obvious level, penning something personal about miscarriage (which I write extensively on) in the hope of making people suffering feel less alone. What should we be considering? What will it mean for our relationships with those we are currently waving a Fisher Price BeatBo toy at?

‘Ten years from now, almost all the next generation of teenagers will all have baby photos on social media; it’s not going to be something that stigmatises them,’ says Victoria Nash, acting director of the Oxford Internet Institute.

So, really, like with all parenting decisions, I think it’s down to you. Just don’t judge someone for what feels right for them.

READ MORE: 10 Questions To Ask Before Putting Your Kids Online, According To Mummy Bloggers

READ MORE: Why Posting Pictures Of Your Children Online Is Selfish And Damaging

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